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Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Going on vacation with your kids can be a fantastic experience for both you and your children. However traveling to your destination can be a nightmare, if the kids or baby, start playing up, no more so than on an airplane.
The main problems that they may experience, that you can find solutions for here are
In this article, we will
When flying with a baby or child, child earplanes or other pressure reducing ear plugs can reduce both noise and ear pain
“Studies have shown that – just over half of children experience some ear discomfort when flying “
The ears are made up of many sections. When flying, ear pain is generally caused by the pressure on one side of the eardrum, being different to the pressure on the other side. The difference in pressure causes the eardrum to stretch slightly, causing pain.
The “outside” of the eardrum is open to the environment through your ear canal (ear hole). Any pressure changes are immediate on this side of the ear drum.
The “inside” of the ear is not directly connected to the outside world and takes longer to adapt to any pressure changes. The changes in pressure need to go through the Eustachian tube. (This is the tube the from middle ear to the back of the nose and throat).
Any problems with this tube (blockages, swollen glands or coughs & colds) will cause any pressure changes to be slower. This may increase the time it takes for any discomfort to go.
Using children’s earplanes or other children’s / baby airplane ear protection, slows down the pressure change on the outer ear. The inner part of the ear now has more time to adjust. This reduces the discomfort.
Babies and children do experience more ear pains on flights than adults in general, and they are not making a fuss on the plane. Studies have shown that a quarter to over half of children flying experience some form of discomfort. (1 in 3 adult passengers say they get some trouble). There are several reasons for this.
There are four main reasons that children may experience more pain when flying than you, as an adult will.
Children have weaker immune systems to adults, and this means that they are more likely to have blocked noses, or ears. This results in the pressure taking much longer to equalize in the inner ears. Try to keep the noses unblocked for the duration of the flight.
The adenoids are soft tissue behind the nasal cavity. In babies and children, these are bigger relative to the size of the nasal/ear cavities. This means that there is less space, and air, making pressure reduction slower.
Using pressure reducing ear plugs for children, gives the inner ear more time to adjust to the pressure changes. This reduces the discomfort
There are some things that you can do to reduce the discomfort, by helping pressure changes. Yawning, and chewing gum both help with this problem. Very young children and babies cannot do this on-demand.
The Eustachian tube (This is the tube from the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat – remember?) is not the same in children. They are narrower, so become blocked easier. They are also a different shape, again making pressure equalization more difficult
How To Stop Children’s Ears Popping On A Plane is not difficult in most cases. Below are some airplane ear pain remedies
This has been mentioned a couple of times. Wearing something that stops the outer ears pressure reducing so quickly may help. There are three types of plug. These have varying effectiveness, and some will annoy the children more than others. Details in the next section
Keeping well hydrated and drinking lots of liquids – especially water. (Not caffeinated drinks) Will mean that your nasal passages are less likely to dry out and become blocked.
Even if you, or your kids have no blockages now, the air in planes is recycled and a lot drier than fresh air. This will cause your nasal passages to dry out .
Drinking water is easy and cheap!
If your child has a blocked nose, has sensitive ears, or has experienced this type of pain before, then you could give them a pain killer. This should be the child’s variety, and given before flying. There are safe over the counter pills you can get for children like Ibuprofen.
Always read the label and consult a doctor if you are unsure
Yawning helps to equalize the pressure in the ears. Make it a game and see who can yawn the most on the way down.
This again helps with the pressure difference on the various parts of the ears. Ask a stewardess when you are going to start descending, then give your kids some candy to suck
Being awake will reduce discomfort as well. I know it seems like a good idea to let the children sleep through it all. But when your children are awake, they breathe differently, they can yawn, and chew to help with the ear discomfort
Many babies never show the slightest signs of discomfort; but some will. Most of the things that help children will also help babies, but there are some differences. For example, you cannot give a baby candy to suck, or get them to yawn on demand.
Again as with children, use of ear protection may help when flying with a baby. The in-ear type may be a problem for the very young, so over the ear protectors will be more comfortable. (See further down the page)
The sucking action, like sucking a sweet, will help reduce the babies ear pain. So give them a bottle, a pacifier, or breastfeed them. So they are sucking. It will help with the ear pressures, and may take their mind off what is going on around them
Same as with adults, this is the easiest and cheapest thing to do to help with the ears when flying with a baby.
Always read the instructions, and talk to a doctor if you are unsure. But pain killers can help when flying with a baby.
Paracetamol can be given to children over two months, which weigh more than 9 pounds (4.4kg)
Ibuprofen can be given to kids over three months if they weigh more than 11 pounds (5kg)
If your baby does start to cry, it will actually help them. Crying opens the Eustachian tubes, clearing the ears and reducing discomfort. (I am not suggesting that you deliberately make the baby cry!)
Distracting the baby when landing and taking off may make them not think about any slight discomfort that they are experiencing. Playing games and looking out of the window are good ideas
If your child has an infection that affects the ears in any way, then this can lead to more problems.
If your child or baby has a cold when flying, everything should be fine. You need to try to keep the nose as clear as possible. It is better to try not to use a decongestant as they are not recommended for children
It is better to use saline nose drops before take-off and landing. Full instructions are given on the bottle. Use these with a suction bulb to remove all the mucus.
You or your child will have no problem when taking medicines on to a flight. If they are tablets then they can be carried on and taken as usual.
If they are liquids and higher than the 100ml limit, then you will need to take them in a clear zip-locked bag. Medications are exempt from the 100ml limit. Be sure to take the prescription in case you need to show it.
If the antibiotic is liquid form, and needs to be refrigerated, take what you need onto the flight. Put the rest in your checked baggage. It is cold in the baggage area in the plane, this will keep your medication in good condition
It is advisable not to fly with swimmers ear, or an ear infection. Evidence suggests that there will be no serious harm. However, ear pain could be worse and may take longer to stop.
Decongestants may help, but these are not suited to children under 6. If the child is from 6 to 12, only with the advice of a pharmacist. Pain killers suited to the person’s age will also help to reduce pain
If you need to fly with a child with ear problems, then you should check with a medical professional, before the flight.
Once you have landed, your ears may be still experiencing some distress. The methods used to stop suffering in-flight (yawning, chewing, etc), should be continued until that pain has gone.
The pain can last for a long time, depending on the person that has it. But in general, if the ache lasts for several hours or more, or the pain is severe, then you should seek medical advice.
Please don’t worry about this too much, this is not a common occurrence. Most people get no ear problems or very mild discomfort when flying.
Earplugs help children and babies on planes in two ways.
Protect the ears from excessive noise. The volume of the noise inside a plane can range from 60 to 100 decibels. This may be even higher for take-off. Ear protectors should be worn if the volume in a location exceeds 80-85 decibels, for any length of time.
As the rest of this article has mentioned, plugs can also help reduce the pain or discomfort that may be experienced when flying. Generally, the earplugs available when flying with children come in three types:
These are the best earplugs for children when flying. But, they are also more intrusive. They consist of a soft silicon plug with “fins” that are inserted into the ear. The small size will fit children. Hypoallergenic and reusable. (see recommended plugs below)
Kids and babies will wear these more naturally than the in-ear plugs. They go over the top of the ears like big headphones. They will protect your child’s ears from excessive noise and will relieve some of the pain. But not as effectively as the Earplane plugs.
Reusable, and can be used for many situations, e.g. Sleeping, Festivals, Concerts, Theatres, Fireworks, etc. (see recommended plugs below)
Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you require more information, please check these references
Baby On Board , article, ” www.southwest.com”, retrieved on, Thu 05-September-2019
Flying With Baby , article, “www.healthychildren.org”, retrieved on, Thu 05-September-2019
Ear Pain , article, “en.wikipedia.org”, retrieved on, Thu 05-September-2019
Pressure Pain On Fligh , article, “twww.mayoclinic.org”, retrieved on, Thu 05-September-2019
Flying Ears , article, “kidshealth.org”, retrieved on, Thu 05-September-2019
Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing
“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”
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