If you've suffered a perforated eardrum and are worried about your upcoming travel plans, you'll be pleased to know that you can fly with a perforated eardrum. This article offers the full low-down on flying with a perforated eardrum, including when you should avoid it and whether it'll be painful. Read on to find out more.
What is a perforated eardrum?
Also known as a burst eardrum or a ruptured eardrum, myringoplasty, a perforated eardrum, indicates a hole or tear in the eardrum.
The eardrum, known medically as the tympanic membrane, is a thin layer of tissue which separates the outer ear and middle ear. In certain circumstances, this can tear, causing a hole to be made; this is a perforated eardrum.
Eardrums can burst for a number of reasons, but the most common is an ear infection. You might also have damaged the drum (for example, by poking a cotton bud deeply into your ear), have experienced a significant change in pressure (for example, when scuba diving), or have experienced a sudden loud noise (for example, an explosion). Another reason they can rupture is due to barotrauma, when the eustachian tube (a tube connecting your ear with your nasal sinuses) is blocked or irritated.
How long does a perforated eardrum take to heal?
Luckily for those who have damaged their eardrum, the healing process tends to be relatively quick. In most circumstances, no treatment will be needed, and the hole in the eardrum will repair itself in a matter of weeks.
However, there are occasions when you might need to undergo treatment. A perforated eardrum might cause a middle ear infection (where the infection takes hold behind the eardrum), so your GP would prescribe antibiotics. You might also find that if the hole is large or does not heal in the expected amount of time, you might be referred to a specialist to consider a surgical fix.
Flying with a perforated eardrum
In the majority of circumstances, it is safe to fly with a perforated eardrum.
You might only avoid flying altogether if the damage to your eardrum resulted in you needing surgery. Your doctor or surgeon, however, will be able to inform you about when it will be safe to fly.
READ MORE: Can you fly with a broken bone?
Is it painful to fly with a perforated eardrum?
You may be surprised to read this, but when you have a perforated eardrum, flying might be more comfortable than flying normally. Frequent flyers will be well aware of how the changes in air pressure can affect your ears, especially during take-off and whilst landing. For some people, this change can be uncomfortable or even mildly painful.
However, when you have a perforated eardrum, the hole in the eardrum itself is a help, not a hindrance. As air can pass through the hole, it’ll be easier for the pressure within your middle ear to balance out. Because of this, if you fly with a perforated eardrum, you might actually find it less uncomfortable than usual.
What to do if your eardrum bursts whilst flying?
In unfortunate circumstances, someone might find that their eardrums rupture whilst flying. This can be more likely to happen if you are flying with a cold or are already congested, which can block the eustachian tube and make it hard for you to equalise the pressure appropriately. The signs of an eardrum bursting are sudden ear pain, trouble hearing or a ringing in the ears, and sometimes blood or pus coming from the ears.
If this happens, it is worth informing your flight attendants, who can assist you. Then, when you land, you should seek medical attention to check your eardrum. Although the eardrum will likely not need treatment, getting checked out in the first instance can be helpful, especially if this is your first rupture.
Getting travel insurance for pre-diagnosed medical conditions
Travelling with any medical condition can mean you need to take extra steps and precautions to ensure you’re safe and protected should something happen; this is why investing in holiday insurance with medical conditions is essential. And, from the best travel insurance for over 70s to cover for cancer patients, we can help you compare quotes from leading companies to ensure you get the best price and cover available.
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