Pressurized cabins

Old Jan 18th, 2004, 08:48 AM
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Pressurized cabins

My 10 year old has chronic ear trouble although able to fly with some discomfort.

Which airline carrier and/or jet type has the best pressurized cabins?

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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 09:10 AM
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I am inclined to suggest that all major commercial aircraft in the US are pressurized similarly. The reason pressures are lower than sea level equivalent is to conserve fuel.
The FAA requires that all cabins be pressurized to no less than the equivalent of being at 8000 feet altitude (outdoors).
But if an airline chose to offer higher pressures than required, they would pay higher fuel costs and would not likely receive any benefits for this investment since >95% of travellers don't seem to have any problem with the current requirements.

I can't imagine a reason why any carrier would offer higher cabin pressures than another.
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 09:12 AM
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You might look at those "ear planes" gadgets that are supposed to help kids' ears on flights.
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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What is an 'ear plane' gadget, where can I buy one and are they custom fitted?
gplimpton: So...What causes some flights to be easier on the ears than others? The rate of descent?
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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My Seven year old has the same problem, especially upon landing, and especially if we change elevation quickly. We have tried everything, i.e. having her chew gum, drink, eat, distraction, and she even claims that the little plastic "earplanes" give her even more discomfort(or whatever they're called-you just buy them in drugstores, by the way)! Our pediatricians always suggest decongestant, because it is the fluid in the ears that usually causes pain. Maybe ibuprofen taken before the flight would help ease the pain too? Good luck!
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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Hi

My wife has the same problem. Doctor told her to squit Afrin in each nostril before take off and before landing. We just flew and it worked great!
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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My husband and I flew on an older airplane that had cabin pressure problems. With older planes, the rubber seal around the doors gets a little loose and it is harder to pressurize the cabin.

There were four of us traveling together and the pressure problem caused me to burst a vien under my eye which gave me a black eye.

My friends husband had both eardrums burst.

Check the age of the plane you are flying on.
 
Old Jan 18th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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There is a very small flesh-lined passage (the Eustachian tube) which connects the upper throat/back of the nasal passages (nasopharynx) to the middle ear compartment. The ear drum separates the middle ear from the outer ear ( via the external auditory meatus).
This passage allows air pressure to remain equal on both sides of the eardrum. (If there were a difference in pressure on one side of the drum vs. the other, the drum couldn't vibrate optimally, hence hearing would diminish).
The Eustachian tube allows air pressure from the mouth and pharynx to equalize with that in the middle ear.

The problem: if the Eustachian tube collapses (almost like a garden hose with a kink in it) air pressure in the middle ear cannot change with the environment. On the ground, no problem. When cabin pressure goes down, the air pressure inside the middle ear stays the same, but compared with air pressure outside the ear, the middle ear pressure is then greater. This cause the drum to bulge outward. The whole middle ear compartment tries to expand to relieve the pressure.

Solutions: yawning and chewing mechanically put tension on the opening of the Eustachian tube in the nasopharynx. Even a slight tug on the opening of the tube can allow air to escape the middle ear, relieving the pent up pressure.
Afrin and similar are vasoconstrictors; in this case they cause blood vessels in the lining of your nose to shrivel, which eventually produces a tightening up of the mucosal surfaces covering the nasal passages and nasopharynx. This can cause the opening of the Eustachian tube to dilate slightly, which can be enough to allow air to escape the middle ear.

Colds, flus and throat infections cause inflammation of the mucosal surfaces of the throat and nasopharynx. Thus, the Eustachian tube can 'swell shut' in those situations. Anti-inflammatories can help some, decongestants are more direct.
Taking anti-inflammatories in the absence of inflammation will not reliably help relieve or prevent altitude-indice Eustachian closure.
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 02:58 PM
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Well, you have to be a physician. Thanks for that helpful summary! My daughter actually has almost constant allergies, which I think may be why her ears always bother her on planes, though not at other times.
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Old Jan 18th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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Wow TedTurner! I'm impressed!
 
Old Jan 19th, 2004, 07:31 AM
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This will not be as scientific as TedTurner but has worked for my daughter with similar ear pain. Buy some Saline mist used to hydrate noses and put it in the ear as the plane begins its descent. You may have to put it in the ears more than once. It relieves the pressure in the ears. I use this along with the decongestant.
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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TedTurner: in response to your explaination, does this also apply to people having recurring chloesteatoma and post op tympoomastoidectomy?
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