If you experience severe pain or symptoms associated with airplane ear that don't resolve with self-care techniques, you'll likely see your family doctor or a general practitioner first. You may, however, be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). It's useful to prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to your ear problems.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of airplane ear, you might want to ask the following questions:
- Are these signs and symptoms likely related to my recent airplane travel?
- What is the best treatment?
- Am I likely to have any long-term complications?
- How will we monitor for possible complications?
- How can I prevent this from happening again?
- Should I consider canceling travel plans?
- Are there brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions, including:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do you have allergies?
- Have you had a cold, sinus infection or ear infection recently?
- Have you had airplane ear before?
- Were your past experiences with airplane ear prolonged or severe?
What you can do in the meantime
To treat pain, you may take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), or an analgesic pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
July 19, 2013
- Vernick DM. Ear barotrauma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 16, 2013.
- Ears and altitude. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/earsAltitude.cfm. Accessed May 16, 2013.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: MosbyElsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed May 16, 2013.