Can you Fly with a Perforated Eardrum?

With fluctuating air pressure on planes known to cause ear discomfort at the best of times, it is no wonder that many worry whether it is safe to fly with a perforated eardrum. 

It is very understandable to be concerned about flying with this condition, especially if this is the first time that your eardrum has ruptured or you have considered travelling with one. This short guide will tell you all you need to know about how to fly safely and confidently with a perforated eardrum.

What is a Perforated Eardrum?

The eardrum is a fine layer of skin that is stretched flat like the skin of a drum that divides the middle of the ear from its outer part and vibrates when sound waves hit it. A perforated or ruptured eardrum refers to when a tear or hole develops in this thin layer of tissue, effectively bursting the skin.

Ear infections and increased pressure against the eardrum can cause this condition. The most common symptoms include ear pain, pus or blood coming from the ear, unexplainable noise or ringing in the ears, feeling like your ear is clogged or muffled, poor hearing, dizziness and facial weakness. 

Although perforated eardrums tend to cause a lot of pain, they usually heal all by themselves within a few weeks. However, it is best to get it checked by a doctor in case there is an infection, the hole is particularly large or it is not healing as in these cases, you may require treatment. 

Can You Fly if You Have a Perforated Eardrum?

So, can you fly with a perforated eardrum? You can indeed!

While flying with a ruptured eardrum can cause some discomfort, there is no medical evidence to say that you would be likely to come to any serious harm. That being said, it is always best to consult a doctor and get the final go-ahead before flying.

What’s more, medical professionals may be able to offer you medication that will fight the infection, speed up the healing process or ease the pain, all of which would make the journey more comfortable for you. 

What Happens if Your Eardrum Ruptures on a Plane?

Ear infections cause inflammation and a build-up of fluid inside your ears, which when paired with the high altitude in a plane, can cause the pressure in your ears to get too much and burst the eardrum. Although likely to be rather painful, this situation is rarely serious and can be left alone until landing. 

However, it is worth informing the cabin crew on a plane who should have received appropriate first aid training to know how to deal with someone experiencing an eardrum rupture. Once you land, you should get your ears checked by a doctor to ensure that the rupture is not particularly bad or caused any severe damage. 

Tips for Flying with a Perforated Eardrum

Flying with a perforated eardrum is generally completely safe. But there are a few small steps that you can take to ensure that your travels go as smoothly as possible.

  • Check with a doctor before flying to get some professional medical advice and assurance. 
  • Try to clear your ears during take-off and landing to reduce the air pressure on your eardrums. You can do so quite easily by chewing gum, yawning, sucking on a sweet or investing in pressure-equalising earplugs.
  • Purchase travel insurance that will cover your medical expenses if your ear needs any medical attention during your trip.

Summary

Flying with a perforated eardrum rarely causes any complications, so you don’t have to avoid travelling on a plane if you are suffering from the condition. Getting checked by the doctor and ensuring that you clear your ears during landing and takeoff are the best ways of preparing for your travels and reducing the risk of any mishaps.

If you have a perforated eardrum and want to ensure that you have appropriate medical insurance that will cover any medical emergencies related to your condition, you can purchase comprehensive insurance from Navigator Travel. Get in touch to find out more about the insurance policies we offer.