Long haul flights can be hard on the body, and your ears and hearing are no exception. While you’re no doubt familiar with the process of sucking on a boiled sweet to help you with the pressure in your ears, there are other ways you can protect your hearing when travelling.
Commercial air travel is a safe option to get from A to B but it comes with some risks to hearing if there are underlying medical problems. Changes to cabin pressure can further exacerbate any existing issues.
A small number of people can suffer from temporary hearing loss after flying. This is known as temporary threshold shift (TTS).
The resulting hearing loss usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and can be debilitating. Being exposed to noises of high intensity can stimulate this problem.
To avoid your ears being blocked, causing temporary loss of hearing, you should aim to be awake around an hour before landing as your Eustachian cannot open properly when you are asleep.
Other tips to help avoid this problem include drinking plenty of water, as the swallowing motion can help to prevent blockages. Boiled sweets and chewing gum can also be used for this effect.
If you have acute otitis media or any other condition causing a blockage of the Eustachian tube, you should avoid flying until this is cleared.
The Eustachian tubes control the air pressure in your ear canal, so environmental changes in pressure can affect this area.
If you are concerned about having sensitive hearing, it is best to wear earplugs on board. You could also request a seat in front of the engines, where noise levels are lower.
And, if you wear hearing aids, they should be turned off or the volume lowered as this can prevent damage being caused by aircraft noise that can be particularly loud during take-off.