Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Ground & Other Ops Forums > Medical & Health
Reload this Page >

Flying with Ear Infection?

Medical & Health News and debate about medical and health issues as they relate to aircrews and aviation. Any information gleaned from this forum MUST be backed up by consulting your state-registered health professional or AME. Due to advertising legislation in various jurisdictions, endorsements of individual practitioners is not permitted.

Flying with Ear Infection?

Old 16th Nov 2012, 09:38
  #1 (permalink)  
Ds3
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Duxford
Age: 41
Posts: 140
Flying with Ear Infection?

I've had a good search, but whilst there are many threads on the topic, none have really given me a straight forward answer.

I've currently got an ear infection, first time I've had one and I'm not particularly impressed! It's nothing major, just pain in one ear which the doc says is around the ear drum. I've been given antibiotics (amoxicillin) which I started taking yesterday.

I've got the shareoplane booked for Sunday afternoon for a local flight, during which I won't be going above 3,000ft max and won't be airborne for any more than two hours, probably less.

I understand that with ear infections there is a risk of rupture as you cannot equalise with the pressure changes. However, it seems this problem is more related to middle / inner ear infections, and I'm assuming mine is an outer ear infection?

I know better safe than sorry etc, but I'd like to fly on Sunday (wx permitting) if it really doesn't represent a risk. I'm also hoping that three days of drugs should go a long way to kicking it in to touch. So should I be cautious and stay attached to terrra firma, or given the nature of the infection etc is it a zero risk (well, as much as aviation ever is) adventure?
Ds3 is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 09:50
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 4,605
I'd be very, very careful. Equalizing problems mostly occur when the ambient air pressure rises. Divers need to clear their ears every meter going down, but going up is not a problem, usually. The same applies to aircraft. You will only notice problems when you are descending for landing. If anything goes wrong then the only way to solve it is to go up, and you can't stay there forever.

Furthermore, even if you are able to equalize your ear (and you can try that on the ground - you should know what it feels like when you pinch your nose and try to exhale) it will probably lead to a lot of pain around the eardrum.

Did you talk to the doctor about this?
BackPacker is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 09:58
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 448
Again be careful ds3. Last year I operated a return flight to Jersey and the cabin altitude was never above 5000 feet, total return flight time of 2 hours. I had an ear infection (didnt know it at the time as had just got over a cold) but ended up with a blocked eustachian tube for 2 weeks. Not fun!
Dct_Mopas is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 10:12
  #4 (permalink)  
Ds3
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Duxford
Age: 41
Posts: 140
Thanks guys, yes did mention it to the doc but she was pretty vague to be honest.

Equalizing on the ground doesn't really cause any pain, although I did take a half dose of ibuprofen about an hour ago. The paid has definitely subsided since I started the antibiotics, this morning it's more of an itchy and blocked feeling.
Ds3 is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 10:56
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: flightdeck/earlyhours commute
Posts: 198
Having had one a few years back, I can quite honestly say its not worth the risk. It did develop into something unbelievably painful, before it subsided. It manifested as something small and annoying on a flight. Just an irritation. And 2 days later, I was in a bad state.

Last edited by Shiny side down; 16th Nov 2012 at 10:57.
Shiny side down is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 13:54
  #6 (permalink)  
Ds3
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Duxford
Age: 41
Posts: 140
Thanks all, mine has done the whole mild irritation going bad and is on the mend now, so I really just wanted to establish if there was a risk or not, but the concensus is clearly that there is, so despite the fact you are all mean spoilsports I shall refrain from going .

How long should I leave it once all the physical symptoms have completely subsided before spreading my wings again?!
Ds3 is offline  
Old 16th Nov 2012, 20:37
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: gone surfin'
Age: 55
Posts: 2,332
From the description you give, you do not have an outer ear infection, (otitis externa) rather an infection of the drum itself (and possibly the middle ear).-otitis media.



From what I can remember from "human factors" rates of pressure change is greater nearer the ground. Combined with a friable drum, a collection of gunge in the middle ear, a swollen eustacian tube, and Boyles law, you are a disaster waiting to happen should you fly.


You are on the drug of choice, and it's likely that you will recover in 5-7 days. Remember analgesia (check with your pharmacist, but paracetamol 1gm 4 x a day and ibuprofen 4oomg 3 x a day seems to work well), as pain is the main worry, rather than infection.
gingernut is offline  
Old 17th Nov 2012, 06:53
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 303
It's just a Bad Idea to fly until you are definitely clear. Even after it has stopped hurting there's still lots of rubbish in your ear. Until your body has it's own chance to clear this, side effects of flying can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. That's sort of ok on an airliner when you're not flying and you can dose to the gills on painkillers. It's not when you are PIC of a light aircraft.
I speak from some experience.
fwjc is offline  
Old 17th Nov 2012, 19:36
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: gone surfin'
Age: 55
Posts: 2,332
It's worth performng a search, slim slag once provided a list of recovery times for certain illness's/operations/conditions.

Common sense tells me that rid of symptoms (which could be some time) + 1 week would be sensible.
gingernut is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.