ZocdocAnswersIs it okay to fly on an airplane with an ear infection?

Question

Is it okay to fly on an airplane with an ear infection?

I have an ear infection. Its getting better, but still a little stuffy and achy. Every time I fly I know my ears pop. Is it okay/dangerous to fly like this? Will my eardrums burst or something?

Answer

For most people, flying in airplanes is not a problem, but there are exceptions. What most people don't realize is that there is always some mucous and fluid that is created in your ear. The inside of the ear and the eustachian tube contain the same mucous secreting cells as the rest of your mouth and upper airway, and all of these secretions need to be drained. The fluid from your ear usually will drain down the back of your throat via the eustachian tube, which will allow you to hear better and keep you from getting ear infections. Sometimes, either because the tube is blocked or swollen, this drainage doesn't happen. Any pool of secretions is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and some people with chronic eustachian tube problems will also have chronic otitis media (ear infections behind the tympanic membrane). In your specific case, it is hard to say whether or not flying would be a problem. There are infections of the external canal, as well as part behind the ear drum. Each one has different treatments, and the effects on flying would also be different. The doctor who diagnosed you with the infection should be able to quickly answer your question. Please speak to your doctor.

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

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