The Pressure Change
Pressure changes may temporarily obstruct the Eustachian tube, causing your ears to ‘pop’ or feel full. Swallow often to relieve pressure; chewing gum may also help.
Yawning may be quite beneficial as well. Avoid taking naps throughout your descent; if you don’t swallow often enough, you won’t be able to keep up with the pressure shift. If yawning or swallowing doesn’t help, try the ‘Valsalva maneuver’:
- Take a deep breath in through your mouth while closing your nose. Use just your cheek and neck muscles to blow air into the back of your nose, as if you were trying to blow your thumb and finger out of your nostrils. Blowing in short, repetitive attempts should be done with great caution. When you hear or feel a pop in your ears, you’ve accomplished. Never try to force air out of your lungs or diaphragm; this may lead to dangerously high pressures.
The pressure variations that occur during the descent are especially stressful to infants. Allowing them to sip from a bottle or sucking on a pacifier may assist them in becoming more relaxed.
Avoid flying if you’ve recently had abdominal, ophthalmic, or oral surgery, including a root canal. The pressure changes that occur throughout the climb and descent may be uncomfortable.
If you have an upper respiratory or sinus infection, you may have discomfort as a result of pressure changes. Postpone your trip if at all feasible. (Check your ticket for any cancellation or change penalties.) Pressure changes, last but not least, cause your feet to swell. Avoid wearing new or tight shoes while flying.
The body is dehydrated by both alcohol and coffee. Because airplane cabin air is already dry, the combination may increase your chances of catching a cold. Low cabin humidity, as well as alcohol or coffee use, may reduce tear volume, causing pain if you don’t blink often enough if you wear contact lenses.
Users with contact lenses should clean them thoroughly before traveling, use lubricating eye drops while flying, read at regular intervals, and remove their lenses if they fall asleep.
If you’re permitted to carry bottled water on the plane (check ahead of time), bring the biggest bottle you can. In certain countries, you may not be permitted to carry a bottle of water beyond the security checkpoint, but you may purchase one at the airport (at ridiculously higher prices). If you are planning a long tip, sometimes it’s better to just pay the higher price and get a big bottle of water at the airport, than flying without any liquids.
Even though you can buy water at the airport, it doesn’t mean you can bring it with you. Make sure everything is in order by checking, double-checking, and triple-checking.
Don’t Forget the Medication
Make sure you have enough prescription medications to last the length of your trip if you need to take them. Have a copy of the prescription or your doctor’s name and phone number on hand in case the medication is lost or stolen. The medicine should be in the original prescription bottle to avoid scrutiny at security or Customs checks. Keep it in your pocket or carry-on baggage; don’t put it in your checked luggage in case it is lost. For the latest up-to-date rules and regulations, contact the TSA.