For a Pleasant Flight

Before Departure

Common Onboard Ailments and Their Treatment

Since the onboard environment is quite unique, it causes some changes in our bodies.
For example, pain sometimes occurs in the ears due to the change in air pressure.
Here we will look at the common onboard ailments of inner ear inflammation (aerotitis) and motion sickness, as well as ways to deal with and prevent them.

Ears hurt or feel plugged up

Sometimes passengers' ears may hurt or feel plugged up during takeoff and landing. This is due to the air of the middle ear behind the eardrum expanding or contracting due to changes in onboard air pressure. The inner ear is connected to the nasal cavities by a narrow passage called the Eustachian tube, and when there is a change in environmental air pressure, the pressure inside the inner ear is equalized by opening up the Eustachian tube in the nose. However, when you have a cold or nasal inflammation caused by allergies, the mucous membrane inside the nose swells up and blocks the Eustachian tube, resulting in inflammation of the inner ear.

See your doctor about any cold (runny nose, sore throat, sneezing) or nasal inflammation due to allergies (sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose) before your trip. If you have the symptoms of a cold or have nasal inflammation due to allergies, use an over-the-counter nasal decongestant before boarding and prior to landing.
If your ears start to hurt during the flight, try swallowing, yawning, or sucking on a candy. If this does not help, try the Valsalva maneuver (ear clearing).
First blow your nose. Then hold your nose, take a small breath, close your mouth, and blow so that air is forced out through your ears. Be careful not to blow too hard.
Finally swallow. If you need something to relieve the pain, let your flight attendant know.
Inner ear inflammation in infants
Small children sometimes cry when the aircraft is ascending or descending. This is often caused by pain in the ears. Give the child some milk or juice to drink, in order to open up the Eustachian tube.
Facial pain

There are nasal cavities called the sinuses near the surface of the face. Usually, air can pass freely between the sinuses and the nose. However, when your nose is plugged up and there is a change in air pressure, the air inside the sinuses may expand or contract. This leads to sinus inflammation. The areas where pain is usually felt are the forehead, followed by above or below the eyes, between the eyes, or in the cheeks.

Prevention and treatment
The prevention and treatment methods are the same as for middle ear inflammation.
Nausea and vomiting

Just like in a ship or a car, passengers can suffer motion sickness on a plane. Motion sickness is marked by a feeling of nausea during a flight and an urge to throw up. It can easily occur when the aircraft passes through turbulence.

Avoid eating or drinking too much, or going hungry.
Do not read newspapers or magazines for a long period of time when the aircraft is shaking frequently during the flight.
People prone to motion sickness should take anti-motion sickness medication (such as Travelmin) before boarding
If you feel nauseous:
  • Put your seat back and relax
  • Take slow deep breaths
  • Loosen your clothing and undergarments
  • Put a cold towel on your forehead
  • Gargle with cold water
  • Ask for some anti-motion sickness medication
    (a supply is kept onboard)
Bloated stomach or stomachache

In the human stomach, there are between one and two liters of air. Since this air expands when the aircraft gains altitude, people who are constipated or drink a lot of carbonated beverages may experience bloating and stomachache.
Most stomachaches that occur during a flight are caused by air expanding in the stomach.

Wear clothing that is loose around the waist and stomach.
Do not drink a lot of carbonated beverages before or during the flight.
Take care of any constipation before your trip.
Be sure to have a bowel movement before flying.
Do not try to postpone any bowel movement during the flight.
If you get a stomachache, loosen your clothing, belt, and undergarments as necessary.

Passengers may experience toothaches when the aircraft ascends or descends. This is caused by air expanding or contracting inside cavities or teeth that are being restored. Go to your dentist to take care of any cavities before your trip. If you get a toothache during your trip, leave it alone and see a dentist as soon as possible after your arrival.
If the toothache is severe, please ask the flight attendant for pain relief medication.

Thirst, dry nose or throat, or eye pain

Since the environment inside the aircraft is dry, you may become slightly dehydrated without a moderate amount of water, and symptoms such as thirst, drying of the nose and throat, or sore eyes can occur.

Prevention and treatment
Be sure to drink a moderate amount of liquids. Gargle occasionally.
Passengers with contact lenses are urged to use eye drops frequently, or to wear glasses.
Using a mask is also effective.