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Pain below jaw bone to ear during air travel. What could be the cause and do I need any treatment?

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
Hi, I am frequent traveler. Whenever I travel by Airlines, I get pain from below my left & right jaw bone to ear specially during take off. What could be the cause and do I need any treatment for this?
Posted Sat, 14 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 32 minutes later
Hello ,
Thanks for posting your query.
This type of earache is common during air travel and is called barotrauma, which occurs when the air pressure in your middle ear chamber and in the environment are not equal. In addition to flying, pressure changes can also occur during scuba diving and driving in the mountains. The symptoms of barotrauma include:
•     Pain (like your pain around ear),
•     Temporary hearing loss
•     Ringing in the ears
•     Dizziness
The pressure in the airplane cabin changes during take-off and if your Eustachian tube i.e connection between middle ear and throat, is blocked due to congestion or some other problem, the pressure difference is not corrected and barotrauma results.
To relieve the pressure in your eustachian tube, you can try the following during take-off.
•     Suck candy
•     Chew gum
•     Yawn
•     Inhale and gently exhale through your nose while pinching your nostrils shut, forcing air through the blocked eustachian tube and possibly opening it.
If the pain persists even after the travel, you can consult your otlolaryngologist (ENT surgeon) who can examine your eardrum and confirm the diagnosis as well as start appropriate treatment with decongestants and analgesics.
At present there is nothing worrisome but repeated attacks can rarely cause infections and hearing difficulties.
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