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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Altitude and Ear Issues

I’ve always had issues with flying and ear pain.  In fact, this situation was so bad at one time that I didn’t fly again for twenty years.  I wasn’t only embarrassed and extremely sick, but I was on a business trip to a conference at the time when I worked for a big company years ago.

My ears ached so bad I wanted to scream.  Nothing I did would unstop them.  Imagine someone digging around in your ear with an ice pick.  To add to this, I was so dizzy I couldn’t walk.  The dizziness caused severe nausea.  Could things get any worse?

I went to the initial meeting and could hardly sit there in the conference room.  We broke for lunch and I stumbled around as if I’d been drinking.  I have no idea what my boss must have thought after paying for my airfare and room.  I couldn’t eat anything. Someone helped me to the elevator because I simply couldn’t walk there on my own and make it back to my room.

That was the most miserable four days of my life.  I didn’t attend any of the conference, had to sleep sitting up propped against the headboard because I was too nauseous to lie down.  I spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom throwing up.


The last thing I wanted to do was get on another airplane.  I didn’t look forward to the flight home, but that was the only way home.  So dizzy and with stopped up painful ears, someone helped me board.  The barf bag was my best friend on that four-hour flight.  I was so glad to touch down and swore I’d never fly again.  It took about two weeks for my ears to finally pop.

When we had a cabin in the mountains many years later, I had the same ear problem driving there and back, minus the nausea.  I think I’m not one to live in high altitudes, or even visit them for prolonged periods.

Finally, I took the plunge again about four years ago when my nephew passed away unexpectedly.  The only way to get to Texas quick was to fly and my sister needed me.  So I was determined to make it somehow and hoped I could be of use once I got there and wouldn’t be too sick.

Well, guess what?  I made it and it wasn’t as gruesome.  My ears were stopped up and painful, but it subsided after a while.  I did take an allergy pill and had my nasal spray too.  The secret was buying a large orange juice after I got through security.  I nursed that all the way to Houston and it helped to swallow little sips for that three-plus hour flight.

I was ecstatic that I found a way to fly again.

Do any of you suffer from this problem, which I learned is barotraumas and not altitude sickness?  It’s caused by the changes in air pressure.


  1. I am glad that you posted this. I bet there are quite a few people out there that can commiserate with you. I always get headaches from the barometric pressure that changes so fast before a storm. Thanks for this post.

    1. Thea,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I thought this was a good subject, as I'm sure I'm not alone.


  2. Hi there!
    I’m stopping by during the A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed stopping by and hope you get the chance to check out my blog sometime during this month. I’m a children’s book author and I’m reviewing different books. Good luck with the challenge!
    Take care,
    Donna L Martin

    1. Donna,

      Nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my A to Z post. I will stop by your blog. I have one published Y/A book. I'd like to see what you're writing.


  3. That sounds pretty miserable to me. I've only dealt with the usual adjustments of the ear to altitude--something I usually easily remedy with yawning or other similar contortions involving the mouth and head. It would be horrid to go through a few days with such an issue.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Wrote By Rote

  4. Lee,

    How are you? Yes, it is horrid, believe me. Altitudes and me don't get a long. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Hi, Sunni! I've had ear problems while flying only once, and I thought I'd die. We were landing, and it felt as though I had an ice pick sticking in my ear! I've had seven surgeries on the affected ear, but flying doesn't usually bother me. After that, I always feel sorry for babies who cry and scream while we're landing. I just know their ears are splitting but they can't tell anyone what's wrong. Love your blog!!

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. And thank you for liking my blog. I like yours too.

      I'm glad I'm not alone with the altitude and ear issues. I don't like screaming babies, but I have more tolerance for them on airplanes because they are probably in terrible pain.



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