Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BAROTRAUMA the beast in the air

So I’ve been traveling a fair bit lately and I’m grateful to get to see the world and all, to hear some really fine poets read and talk about process and music and life and lots of other fun stuff that’s usually not in their official biographies. I just have a small problem which means I’m usually irritable on the inside for the first half an hour after landing, on the inside because I’m traveling on an African passport and immigration officials are not exactly the right folks to spew your drama on unless you look forward to another 11+ hours in the air.

Aeroplane ear. Basically what feels like hot needles piercing the inside of your ear at random intervals, the back of my ear actually heats up, I don’t want to talk or move, not that you can ever hear those gorgeous whispering air stewards anyway but I can’t hear too clearly (personal pet peeve of mine) and for the last 20 or so minutes screaming babies (who are probably feeling the same damn thing) add to the problem, because they are doing something I can’t. Crying. I’m sure it doesn’t fix the problem but I suspect on an emotional level it works better than the Valsalva maneuver.

I need my ears for work so I try to arrange my schedule such that I’m free on the first day or as much of it as possible but that is not always possible.  So that’s my first piece of advice try not to walk straight into a meeting if you know or suspect you are prone to aeroplane ear. I’m no sissy, I have the knee scars and upper arms to prove it but this thing hurts like a … because you can’t reach it to scratch it, and sometimes plucking your finger in there sets off the mother of all stabs. Think of it this way I’ve just been to Rio, Johannesburg, Dhaka and am now in Stockholm and THIS is what I have to talk to about. Because its important and you can cry if you want to but for something possibly more effective try the below

1.     Try not to travel if you already have a cold or ear infection
2.     Buy those pressure ear plug thingys and put them in before the aeroplane doors shut, you may take them off again after the plane levels and place them back in before the plane starts descending
3.     Take a breath in, then pinch your nose and try to breathe out gently with your mouth closed hopefully the ear pressure re-regulates ie the Valsalva maneuver
4.     Ask to be woken, an hour before landing
5.     Take antihistamine a day before or a decongestant as per your pharmacists recommendations
6.     Suck on sweets, in their absence pretend to chew and swallow, when you start to feel discomfort in the ear
7.     If you’re a praying woman or man, now’s probably as good a time as any

If a few days after landing and taking paracetamol, if you find that necessary, you still have ear issues may I suggest you do whats necessary and see a doctor? Safe travels.

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