Plane Window

Can you Fly with Tinnitus?

Ear discomfort during take-off and landing is quite a common experience for those travelling on a plane. Aching or popping is a different experience from tinnitus however, which is a condition affecting people’s hearing that can be caused by a range of different factors.

If you suffer from this condition then you may be worried about the effect that flying with tinnitus may have on your condition. This post includes all the information you might need about tinnitus and flying and advice for how best to manage symptoms in the air.

Plane Window

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition where noises are perceived that are not coming from the outside world. The sensation is often described as being like ‘ringing’ in your ears, but can also sound like a high pitched note, buzzing, hissing or other persistent or intermittent noise that nobody else can hear.

There are a variety of different reasons why someone might experience tinnitus, but the most common is exposure to very loud noise which causes damage to cells inside the ear. It can also be caused by blocked ear canals, certain medications, TMJ syndrome, the natural deterioration of parts of the ear with age, or occasionally serious injuries to the head or the neck.

Many people experience tinnitus at some point in their lives and in the majority of cases, the symptoms disappear after a short while. However, some people suffer from long-term tinnitus which can be difficult to live with and may cause problems with sleep, concentration and sometimes trigger feelings of depression or anxiety.

Flying with Tinnitus

Flying can sometimes cause ear discomfort and ears popping on a plane is very common, so anyone suffering from tinnitus or who has suffered from symptoms in the past may be worried about travelling by air, especially on a long flight. The good news is however that the majority of people do not experience any worsening of tinnitus symptoms when they are in the air, and if it does become more uncomfortable then this is usually only a temporary effect.

If you are flying with tinnitus or have suffered from it in the past, you may want to ensure that the journey is as comfortable as possible by taking steps to manage your symptoms whilst in the air. The following advice may come in useful:

  • Chew gum or suck on a sweet during take-off and landing to equalise the air pressure in your ears and reduce pain or discomfort
  • Avoid wearing earplugs for flying whilst in the air, as this can make tinnitus symptoms more pronounced
  • Swallowing and yawning as much as you can is one of the best things for ears when flying, as this encourages your ears to pop and avoids air building up
  • Avoid sleeping through the landing, as the descent is the worst part of a plane journey for your ears to adjust to pressure changes, and you’ll fare better if you’re awake
  • Try and sit as close to the front of the plane as possible so that you are away from the engine and avoid loud noise that may make symptoms worse
  • If you have hearing aids, keep them in during the flight as this is known to make tinnitus symptoms better
  • Use a nasal decongestant to keep your airways open and avoid pressure building up uncomfortably

If you do suffer from tinnitus or another medical condition that can flare up whilst travelling by plane, it can be useful to purchase travel insurance to provide cover in a situation where you need medical assistance or your travel plans get disrupted because of an illness or condition. 

Navigator Travel offers flexible insurance coverage options that take into account your health, where you are travelling and the risk of further medical complications. You can find out more about our options here.