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Ear pain, on air, refuses to drink or chew. What now?

My daughter is 4 years old. The last time we flew, she experience ear pain from the pressure changing in the plane. I tried to get her to drink, yawn, chew gum but the pain was so bad, she just screamed and kicked grabbing her ears in pain. Someone mentioned giving an antihistimine before flying. What do you recommend ??
Asked On : Fri, 18 Jan 2013
Answers:  2 Views:  25
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Pediatrician 's  Response
Hi Mrs. Kellys,
Thank you for posting your query on and giving us this opportunity to clarify your doubts.
Well, let me explain to you why this ear pain (ear barotrauma) occurs in a flight...
The air pressure in the middle ear is usually the same as the air pressure outside of the body. The eustachian tube is a connection between the middle ear and the back of the nose. If the eustachian tube is blocked, the air pressure in the middle ear is different than the pressure on the outside of the eardrum. This can cause barotrauma, which happens in high altitude flights and deep sea water diving.
The ways to prevent this barotrauma occuring are :

1) Do not sleep while on a descent.
2) Allow the infants to feed or children to sip some juice or a candy.
3) Make them yawn and breathe in and out.
4) Avoid travelling if child already has a cold, cough or sinusitis. This will exaggerate the barotrauma since the eustachian tube will already be closed due to the infection. In such a case, it will be advisable to take an anti-histaminic before the flight.
5) You may also use some nasal or oral decongestants.

Hope I have helped to clarify your doubts and these measures will help your child have a comfortable and enjoyable flight. Take care and stay healthy.
Answered: Fri, 18 Jan 2013
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Pediatrician Dr. Synthyia Bhagat's  Response
Thanks for your query,
Relax,this pain is temporary ,i suggest you to give paracetamol half hour before take off.
give plenty of fluids preferably water,chew gum or suck on hard candy.
I will advise you to consult your pediatrician for use of anti histamine.

Take care.
God bless
Answered: Fri, 18 Jan 2013
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