Most passengers know not to fly if they are suffering from a serious or highly contagious illness. However, a cabin crew member recently revealed that one common ailment could have horrifying consequences if you choose to travel with it.
Ear infections are a fairly common occurrence and if treated correctly tend not to have much of a disastrous impact on patients.
However, passengers who choose to fly while suffering could be running a huge risk.
In a Reddit forum dedicated to cabin crew secrets, an anonymous flight attendant warned travellers of the potential damage they could be doing.
“Don’t fly with an ear infection or fluid in your ears,” the flight attendant advised.
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“There is a chance you can rupture your eardrum. Flight crews are especially susceptible to this since we are constantly going through pressurisation and depressurisation when we work.”
An ear infection occurs when the Eustachian tubes, situated inside of the ear, are blocked.
These blocked tubes cause additional pressure on the eardrum, and if this pressure is heightened it can rupture the eardrum.
As you may have noticed, ears often have a “popping” sensation when flying.
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This is due to the changing cabin pressure, and while harmless normally, for ear infection sufferers it can be devastating.
According to medical experts from Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat: “A swollen or blocked Eustachian tube makes it difficult for your ears to equalise pressure.
“When the tube is blocked, it creates a small vacuum that stretches the eardrum. If the tube remains blocked, fluid collects in an attempt to overcome the vacuum and alleviate pressure. The result is called serous otitis or aero-otitis.”
One passenger who knows all too well the outcome of travelling with an ear infection shared their experience on the Reddit forum.
“I made this mistake thinking I wasn’t that sick,” they said.
“I could feel the pressure slowly leave my inner ear during ascent. During descent, my ears wouldn’t equalise and I thought they were going to implode.
“That was a very painful 5 days of antibiotics while I was waiting for the infection to go away enough that my ears could equalise again.”
Other passengers in the forum claim the sensation feels as though your head is “going to explode”.
Another described it as “the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.”
If travel is urgent but you are concerned about an ailment, the best thing to do is contact a medical professional.
Meanwhile, airlines advise passengers suffering from contagious illnesses not to fly at all so as not to contaminate fellow fliers and crew.
Airlines also withhold the right to deny anyone from flying if they feel they are too unwell.
According to the NHS website: “An airline can refuse travel to any passenger who is unwell and they suspect may be contagious.
“Anyone who has recovered from an infectious disease, but still shows signs, for example, spots following chickenpox, should carry a letter from their GP confirming that they are no longer infectious.”