Flying with a cold or a cold is an ugly thought for many. But sometimes it has to be – you can find out here how you can take your flight with a cold.
The biggest problem when you fly with a cold is the pressure equalization that takes place in the ear during a flight. If it doesn’t work properly because your airways are blocked, health problems can arise during the flight. But how do you know if you are airworthy or not? What happens if you get on the plane anyway?
Flying with a cold: Problem pressure equalization
After take-off, the aircraft moves up to a height of several kilometers within a few minutes. In the meantime, the oxygen pressure in the cabin is so low that you as a passenger get a slight pressure on your ears. This is not dangerous and is usually self-regulating. Chewing and swallowing movements help the whole thing a bit until there is a typical crackling sound in the ear.
If, on the other hand, you have a cold, the mucous membranes are often swollen or the nose is blocked. Under certain circumstances this ensures that automatic pressure equalization no longer takes place.
When you can fly despite having a cold
Fortunately, there is a test that you can use to see if you are able to manually equalize the pressure. To do this, simply hold your nose closed and try to exhale through your nose. If there is a crack in your ear, the mechanism works and you can get on the plane without hesitation. However, despite a functioning pressure equalization, earache can develop on the way. Sometimes these are also accompanied by headaches.
A tip on the side: If you end up at the holiday destination and still have pain in your ear two days later, it is advisable to consult a doctor. The same applies if your hearing is permanently impaired.
When to cancel the flight
If you get on a plane in spite of everything, your inner ear can be damaged. Because then there is a risk that veins will burst or the eardrum will tear. So-called barotrauma occurs. If you have an earache, you should therefore carefully consider whether it is better to cancel the flight.
The same applies to an otitis media. This is usually so bad that the so-called eustachian tube swells and permanent damage can occur during the flight, which can even cause bleeding and is associated with considerable pain.
If you still have to take the flight
In some cases, it’s not about vacation, but about business trips that you have to go on despite having a cold – even if it’s just because you are stranded somewhere sick and just want to go to your own bed as soon as possible. If you have to fly despite a middle ear or sinus infection, but are actually too sick, the following tips will help you get the flight over with:
Flying with a cold: that’s how it works anyway
- Use a nasal spray about an hour before the flight, which will cause the mucous membranes to swell. If it is a long-haul flight, it is recommended that you also use the nasal spray in between.
- Make sure you drink enough fluids during the flight. Tea and water are best for this.
- Lozenges and chewing gum moisten the mucous membranes and help to equalize the pressure. Lozenges, which form a persistent film of secretion in the throat, are particularly helpful.
- Moisturizing eye drops are helpful for dry eyes.
- Make sure you wear the right clothes. The temperature in the cabin may change from time to time during the flight. It’s best to use the onion principle so that you can put down one or more layers if it gets too warm for you.