ZocdocAnswersI currently have an ear infection. What should I do?

Question

I currently have an ear infection. What should I do?

it's the evening time now and i just took my first dose of an antibiotic and a nasal decongestant. i have a flight the day after tomorrow which means i will be taking 4 doses total before the flight. I'd like to know if im risking any ear drum damage by flying this soon or will i be medicated enough time to fly when my flight is scheduled?

Answer

Thank you for this question. While it is impossible to completely answer your specific situation without knowing more details and doing a physical exam, there are some details that a doctor can provide generically. In short, flying while a person has increased pressure in the middle ear can be a bad idea. The ear drum is normally aerated, and is intermittently in continuity with the rest of the outside world via the eustachian tube. During times of infection, this continuity can be obstructed when the tube swells, which can lead to a difference in the pressure between the middle ear and the outside world. When this pressure difference is too great and there is no way for the pressure to normalize, the weakest point will usually give way. In most instances, this is the ear drum, or tympanic membrane. This can rupture in some of these situations to relieve pressure, or at least normalize that pressure between the outside and the inside. In order to prevent this, taking medications to open the eustachian tube and thus provide drainage/equalization can be helpful. Sudafed, afrin, and hydration are recommended to some patients, but not all. Please discuss this with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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