Thursday, December 21, 2006

Barotrauma

So what happens if you take a plane trip when you're congested? Well, of course, your eustachian tubes may get clogged. That means that your ears will not be able to regulate their internal pressure to match that of the environment.

Thus, the plane goes up and the pressure goes down. The internal pressure in the ears is higher than that of the environment, thus the excess comes out through the tubes into the cloggedness. So far so good.

Then the plane goes down and the pressure goes up. The internal pressure in the ears is lower than that of the environment, thus the deficiency should be replenished via the tubes. But since they are clogged because you're congested, you are out of luck. As pressure mounts, it becomes uncomfortable. Then you stop being able to hear properly because your ears feel plugged. Nothing fixes it. Then, as air still cannot fill in the relative void in your ears, it starts pushing more and more against anything that stands in the way --- such as your eardrums. Thus, now you are in pain.

Once on the ground, your ears are still clogged. But not so fast my friend, you still have a 10 hour plane ride to go. So once more, up there you feel great, and when you come down this time is extra painful because the pilot goes down much quicker. Lovely.

The doctor advised me that this abuse could have easily resulted in busted ear drums (hence your ear bones and other parts are exposed to air, but more importantly to bacteria, thus the continuous infection etc --- time to heal 2 months, and perhaps you can still hear after that), or busted circular membrane (my ignorance prevents me from elaborating further on this one)...

... but that in my case, it simply meant that assorted liquids had flooded the inside of my ears. This happened between Sunday and Monday. Only today, Thursday, I can hear more or less properly. Fortunately, there is no permanent damage.

So my friend --- do not fly when congested!!!

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