Whether it’s a romantic break for two, or a family holiday, jetting off abroad can be the perfect way to escape the reality of day-to-day life.
But for some the perfect getaway can start to wreak havoc on our ears as soon as the plane takes off.
Audiology expert Martina McNulty shared advice on how to stop your holiday being ruined by common ear problems.
“As planes reach higher altitudes, the air pressure in the cabin changes, which can cause ears to ‘pop’, often causing severe pain and hearing loss,” the Specsavers Ireland audiology chairperson.
“The ‘popping’ sensation is a result of a difference in pressure between the middle ear cavity and the outside environment, causing the ear drum to swell outward or be sucked inward, depending on whether pressure is rising or falling.”
Ms McNulty said a simple solution to the pain, popping and muffled hearing associated with changes in pressure, is to introduce as much air as possible to the ear by swallowing or yawning.
She recommended sucking on a hard boiled sweet, chewing gum or drinking through a straw during take-off and landing all help.
To avoid as much discomfort as possible it is also recommended that you don't sleep during take-off or landing and stay hydrated.
Swimmer’s ear, according to Ms McNulty, is an inflammation of the external ear canal that can often lead to an infection.
It occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear, most often as a result of swimming.
If you’re cooling off in the sea or at the pool, Ms McNulty said it is “essential” to care for your ears.
“For most, a little water in their ears won’t be a problem but extra care should be taken for those susceptible to ear infections or swimmer’s ear,” she said.
“The best way to avoid it is to wear ear plugs and always steer clear of polluted or dirty water to avoid infection.”
Exostosis, more commonly known as ‘surfer’s ear’, is a condition where bone grows in the ear because of repeated exposure to cold water.
As these bones grow, the ear canal becomes cramped, causing wax and water to become trapped. Ms McNulty said this can lead to hearing loss and infection.
“If you spend a lot of time in the cold water, it’s advisable to wear ear plugs when swimming to reduce the chances of developing surfer’s ear,” she said.
“If the condition is causing problems, an audiologist will be able to diagnose surfer’s ear, which can be treated with minor surgery.”