THOSE planning long distance flights to warmer climates this summer may be facing one problem – tinnitus.
Everyone dislikes the uncomfortable feeling of your ears popping during take off or landing, and the 7.1 million tinnitus sufferers in the UK might worry that the change in air pressure will further affect their hearing.
HCPC registered hearing aid dispenser Katie Ogden gave us her tips for avoiding the annoying ear ringing holiday-makers may experience while in the air.
First of all, she says anxiety increases tinnitus, so a good way to combat the discomfort is by trying to keep a calm state of mind before the journey.
Katie, who works for hearing aid specialists Resound, said: “If we consider the cycle of tinnitus, it feeds off of stress which in turn feeds the tinnitus and so on.
“It is important to remember that even those with chronic tinnitus will likely not experience any changes of their tinnitus on flights and those that do, it is commonly temporary, but you should have prolonged effects because of a flight seek advice from a heath or hearing care professional.
For those who are anxious about flying, which in turn heightens the tinnitus, look into the option of breathing and relaxation exercises, both in the build-up to flying and during, this will help to keep you calm and bring down the stress levels keeping the tinnitus nice and low.”
Another trick for dealing with the quick ascent is chewing gum or sucking on a sweet.
The action of swallowing opens and closes the Eustachian tube connecting your ear and throat, allowing it to equalize the pressure on your eardrum.
There are also areas of the plane that are quieter where you can sit to reduce disturbing noise.
Katie recommended seats in front of the wing, where the plane’s engine is the least audible.
And if you own soft ear plugs or headphones, this is a good time to pull them out.
Katie said: “Personally, I find listening to music most relaxing and distracting, as well as anything that helps to distract from the engine noise.
“But do keep an eye on volume levels, you don’t want the volume too loud causing a temporary threshold shift – a temporary noise induced hearing loss – so keep all headphone volume levels at a safe and reasonable level.
“If you have been fitted with hearing aids or wearable noise generators, then wear these during the flight, too. If the noise of the engines does seem a little loud with the hearing aids, then just turn them down a little rather than take them out.
“If you do wear headphones or soft ear plugs on a flight, remember to follow instructions from the onboard cabin crew and only put these in when directed and take them out when asked.”