How to fly comfortably with tricky ears 

Some of you know that this whole disastrous health journey started for me with a plugged ear and then total hearing loss on my right side. To say I’m a little uptight about the health of my ears as a result of that is an understatement. 

Here in month 15 of Lyme treatment, I’m (not) enjoying a return of a LOT of old symptoms. And one of them is a pressured right ear. It plugs up frequently…. sometimes because of a weather change, sometimes because I need to rest, sometimes for no reason at all. It’s accompanied too by a swollen, plugged up sinus on the right side and usually some mild right side jaw pain. 

I wish I understood the cause of this symptom set!! But for now I’m just coping with it. 

Over the almost 2 years now since my hearing loss, I’ve learned some good tricks for traveling comfortably with ears that don’t regulate pressure well. 

Here are my best tips:
Step 1) Use Afrin or another decongestant* an hour before your flight.

Step 2) Pop in a pair of Ear Planes pressure regulating plugs after the plane door closes.

Step 3) If ear plugging occurs on or after the flight, use your handy dandy Otovent – blowing up the balloon with one nostril while you plug the other will help your ears regulate.

(All goodies easily found on Amazon.)

* A note about thyroid disorder and decongestants:

Most decongestant have warnings about thyroid disease. And it’s legit. You see, when I had that hearing loss in 2014, I was popping Sudafed adound the clock hoping to pop my ear back open. And indeed it wasn’t long before I had full on symptoms of hyperthyroidism (racing heart, tremors, over hyper, anxious, weight loss, etc.) Of course at the time I didn’t know it… I had never learned even what a thyroid did before.  I thought I was losing my MIND! Eventually, months later, after my thyroid dumped all the hormone it had, I swung hypothyroid and that’s when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s which I’m still treating now. MY POINT IS – be careful with decongestants if you have or at risk for any thyroid disorder. 

For this trip to Chicago, I chose to use Afrin instead. It carries the same warning but because it’s topical and not systemic, apparently the risk is much lower of full body reaction. And 24 hours after taking it I am indeed feeling fine. (Though my whole health picture is different now so who knows whether I was really at risk…)

Ok. Off to explore the streets of Chicago and this work conference I’m attending. 

Wishing everyone good health. 



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