Good To Nose Baraka Blog

Flying and Children

Written By: Sue
April 3, 2012

Prevent Painful Flying

Do you ever wonder why a child is more bothered by the change of air pressure on an airplane than you? Or why an infant, who has been silent the whole flight, starts screaming as you approach the runway? Children are much more susceptible to earaches while flying than adults for a couple of reasons.

First, children have shorter Eustachian tubes, which are responsible for equalizing air pressure.  The Eustachian tubes are narrower, more horizontal in orientation and lie closer to the nasal opening.  In other words, they aren’t developed enough to do their job well and the change in air pressure pushes the eardrum inward. Painful!

Secondly, the tonsils can be enlarged in children causing the Eustachian tubes to retain fluid. Tonsils are small in infants and adults, and peak in size for children between the ages of 2-5. The Eustachian tubes may be unable to drain fluid and equalize the cabin pressure while in flight. Check out this great link to learn more.

Caught off guard on a flight with your child who begins screaming from an earache and you are hours from landing?  There is a trick. It may seem a bit complicated, but it is an emergency remedy that works!

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Ask the flight attendance to get you 2 Styrofoam cups, 8 cotton balls and some hot water. Because of tightened regulations, flight attendants may insist they don’t have cotton, but they do. Be persistent.
  2. Clump 4 cotton balls together (you’ll want to create 2 large balls) and put them into the Styrofoam cups.
  3. Pour a small amount of hot water onto the cotton balls ONLY to moisten them. You don’t want any liquid in the cup as it will burn your child. The water needs to be very hot to ultimately create a steam. AGAIN I CAUTION YOU TO ONLY MOISTEN THE COTTON BALLS.
  4. Bring your child to an upright position. This is very important because the Eustachian tubes can’t drain when they are horizontal and you don’t want the hot cotton balls to touch the skin.
  5. MAKING SURE THE COTTON BALLS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CUP put one cup over each of your child’s ears and make sure to get a good seal. You may need another adult to help you with this if you are traveling alone and your child isn’t cooperating.
  6. The hot water on the cotton balls will create a steam that travels into the ears and helps clear the Eustachian tubes of pressure.
  7. Like adults, children should NOT fly while they have an ear infection.

Hopefully this never happens to you, but I’ve been on enough flights to know parents can get caught off guard and this is a lifesaver.

One Response to “Flying and Children”

  1. Earaches and Flying | Sinus Support
    18. April 2012 um 22:48

    […] adults can use the techniques above, infants deserve special attention with or without a cold. In a previous blog, I discussed the reasons why children have a hard time with the change in cabin pressure during a […]

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