Have to fly soon with my chronic ETD help!

Posted , 12 users are following.

Hi everyone long story short I've had my ETD since May of 2016 consistently with hardly any relief. Everyone I know is sick of hearing about it haha. My ENT has given me the steroid sprays which have done nothing and says that I'm too young (25) for him to want to do any surgeries because it's too risky. Anyway I have a flight coming up and I'm getting quite nervous because I have avoided flying since this problem began. Unfortunately I have no choice I need to fly. My ENT has assured me I'll be fine and to just take Afrin before take off and landing. Just wondering if any of you could share your experience when flying with this annoying ear problem as I'm quite nervous! I would appreciate any responses.

Thank you,


2 likes, 29 replies

29 Replies

  • Posted

    You probably meant May of 2015. Depending on what the cause is, you can do one of the following things to help: Just take a couple of decongestants like Mucinex D the night before and one more in the morning. If it's allergy related, use Zyrtec or Benadryl instead. Also, try to chew gum during the flight and make sure you don't fall asleep so you can keep swallowing if the pressure gets bad. The only painful parts are takeoff and landing, the rest of the time you won't notice much. Enjoy your flight smile


    • Posted

      Hahaha I definitely meant 2015 oops ūüėÜ! Thanks for the help I'm sure I'm just worrying over nothing, I appreciate the answer and tips!
  • Posted

    Here in the US you can go to Walmart or Walgreens and buy Earplanes. They are little ear plug that have a cork like appearance. They are awesome! You insert them at least a half hour before ascending and descending. They I haven't flown since I have had my ETD but they worked well before. Good luck. 


  • Posted

    I'd use the afrin and the earplanes. However I have to ask how bad your ETD is, I flew once with bad blockage and the descent was hell. Not trying to scare you but you should be advised. You can get an ent to put pet tubes, not sure why yours won't, even children get them so age makes no sense.
    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply. I would say my ETD is pretty bad it's constantly annoying me. For the most part I can pop them on my own but even still that doesn't provide any real relief as I'm sure you know.

      I'm looking to go to another ENT for a second opinion. He told me he didn't want to put tubes in because I have no fluid I think. And basically told me other procedures might not work and are risky. He basically told me I'm

      Better off just dealing with the ETD.

      He just said take Afrin you'll be fine. Have you flown with it since? I'm hoping since I can kind of pop my ears it might be okay.


    • Posted

      I had mild problems for awhile (hence the afforementioned descent problems) but since I first had bad ETD (also May 2015 for me) I have not flown.

      I would have considered it impossilbe until a month or two ago but I have been progressively getting better to the point that I think I can handle it (with afrin and earplanes).

      I live in LA where I can drive up to 6000 feet from where I live (~450) in about 30 minutes. I'd suggest trying something like that (where you have more control) and seeing how you do if possible. You really don't want to be in a position we're you're descending from that elevation and can't equalize.

    • Posted

      How has your ETD changed within the last 2 months? Just more manageable ..are your ears popping more?

      I've always thought I couldn't fly either but I've already missed a wedding because of this and this time I have no choice but to fly. That's definitely a good idea about the drive. I'm in Massachusetts so hopefully I can make a trip up to New Hampshire or Vermont to get that change and see how my ears handle it. Thanks for the idea hopefully your ETD continues to improve!

  • Posted

    Why don't you ask him to put a grommet in your ear. It can be done in his surgery under a local anaesthetic. You would have to be very careful that you didn't get water in that ear though.

    I presume you meant May 2015? If so that is a long time to have had this. If the ENT can give you no idea of when it will resolve you could look into who performs balloon dilation eustachian tuboplasty. I can't understand why your ENT won't perform surgery. They do it for 4 year olds. I presume they have checked if it is your adenoids causing the problem?

    Divers that have to dive for work use nasal sprays to open the nose and take sudafed/antihystamines an hour before they dive. Try them first to make sure they work before you get on the flight. There is a product called 'earplanes' that are supposed to help slowly equalise pressure. Good luck!!

    • Posted

      Yes definitely meant 2015 haha. It's been a tough year with it. I'm going to find another ENT because mine hasn't been too helpful.

      I have heard of that procedure before I'm hoping I can find someone who does it. He said it's not my adenoids. He said possibly because I have really small ear canals? I just woke up one morning to two blocked ears not sure what caused it.

      I will definitely try the sudafed. I remember when it first started I took some because i thought I had a cold. It didn't clear me up totally but maybe relieves some of the pressure.

      Thanks for yo advice

  • Posted

    The best thing that has helped me is sudafed.  You want the real kind that is kept behind the desk at the pharmacy and where you have to show your ID to get it.  Pseudoephedrine HCI is the active ingredient.  The other stuff on the shelf is different and doesn't work at all for this problem.  Get the regular 4 hour tablets, not the 12 hour ones.  Take two about 30 minutes before takeoff.  

    I took this every day for most of the past ten years, until I figured out most of my sinus and ear symptoms were vitamin deficiency related.  It's definitely the best thing for sinus and eustachian tube inflammation.  And it's not habit forming.  When I finally didn't need it anymore, I easily went off it, even after ten years of consistent use.    

    • Posted

      Good idea I'll definitely be taking some sudafed. Vitamin deficiency related that's interesting ..are you cleared up for the most part now? Did you fly while your ETD was bad? Hope you're doing well now..thanks!
    • Posted

      I am 95% better now.  I did fly when my ears were bad.  At the time I was trying to wean off the sudafed, since my allergies were improving.  I don't know why I did that a few days before a flight!!  It was a mistake.   I could NOT pop my ears on the descent.  Going up was fine.  Going down, that hurt!  The first thing I did when I landed was head to a pharmacy to buy sudafed and made sure I had it for the return flight.   

      Be aware that the soft tissues of the nose, sinuses, throat and eustachian tubes can swell from thyroid dysfunction.  The thyroid controls everything.  Literally.  Once I got that under control, most of my allergies, sinus and eustachian tube swelling went away and I was able to go off all of my allergy medications.  I had been on Flonase, Zyrtec, Singulair, Mucinex and Sudafed - and all year round, for over ten years.  Plus ten years of allergy shots.   It turns out, I've probably had a sluggish thyroid off and on during my life.  I've been able to get better without thyroid medication, just with vitamins and food.  

      Thyroid issues can be caused by, and can cause, nutritional deficiencies.  For example, you lose the ability to convert beta-carotene from food into vitamin A.   I take Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate now, and it has been a key supplement for me for a lot of symptoms.    

      A month ago, it was so annoying to speak because of how my own voice sounded to me with my blocked ears.  I felt like I needed to pop my ears every fifteen seconds.  I was feeling really good otherwise.  It was my last lingering symptom and I couldn't figure it out.  I could pop my ears easily, but they became muffled almost immediately after.   It was that my ears seemed to be losing air so fast that I needed to pop them all the time, even though I was just sitting on my couch, not driving up and down mountains.

      There is really nothing online about this topic that's helpful.  No solutions, or explanations about what causes this or how to fix it.  But I finally managed to find some information in veterinary research, of all things, and it talked about vitamin A.  I had taken it last Fall, and it helped, but I was nervous about getting too much, so I stopped.  I restarted that day about three weeks ago, and felt immediate improvement.  During all this time, I've been taking a lot of other vitamins, including sublingual B vitamins which are all important for the soft tissues of the mouth and throat, and eustachian tubes.  

      Best of luck on your trip!  

  • Posted

    Hi laurag228,

    I know it's been a long time, but I'm very curious to know how your flight went. I'm in the same position as you, chronic ETD and I really want to know whether it is manageable to fly with this condition.. 

    Hope to hear from you!

    • Posted


      Since writing this two years ago I have flown three times! It was very scary the first time and I’m sure that I know how you’re feeling! After writing this post I went to a different ENT who also assured me that I would be okay to fly (as long as I had no congestion at all). But he gave me more advice- told me to buy earplanes to keep my ears from popping, take Afrin spray minutes before take off and landing, and I also took a 12 hour sudafed pill about an hour before take off. 

      Long story short I was totally fine and worried so much for really nothing haha. But I really think the earplanes were the best! They prevent any ear popping at all! I will never fly without them again!!

      The last time I flew days before take off I got a cold - pretty congested - but it was too late to cancel my trip. So against by better judgement I flew congested with earplanes afrin etc and landing was extremely painful. So try your best to stay healthy before your trip (:

      Let me know if you have any other questions! Hope your flight goes well!

    • Posted

      Hi, thanks so much for your reply!

      Such a relief to hear from you that flying was okay! There are all these horror stories online about possible eardrum bursts etc. when flying while you have ETD, but your story has given me some faith. I will definitely be using the things that helped you when I have a flight in the future. Not any plans right now, but I would really like to make plans for a holiday next year smile 

      How is your ETD now? Do you have any idea what causes it? 

    • Posted

      Those horror stories had me terrified too!! I was so scared at take off then everything was okay haha earplanes are definitely a lifesaver! 

      My ETD is pretty much the same that it has been since it started. My doctor said it is probably because I have really small inner ears and narrow nose. Something like that. He didn’t really give a real reason neither did the other ENT I saw. 

      How is yours? It’s a very frustrating thing to deal with!

    • Posted

      Sorry for the late response, I started a new job few weeks ago so that's been pretty time consuming (: 

      I find it so frustrating to deal with.. for me it started after an ear infection and then my ears pretty much cleared up actually. However, after a few months the pressure suddenly got worse and I also started experiencing a bit of tinnitus which has me terrified. And the pressure in my ears differs from day to day, but that's actually what's so frustrating, because sometimes it gets worse out of nowhere and you have absolutely no idea what causes it. My ENT basically told me to live with it, which I try, but I do want to get a second opinion next year. I don't see myself living with this for the rest of my life.. 

      Did you try stuff like the otovent? And have you read about the dilation procedure? I'm a bit hesitant to try anything in case it just gets worse..

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