|Modern aircraft cabins are pressurised to between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, which causes gas within our body cavities to expand. The body contains air in the middle ear and in the sinuses. As the aircraft climbs, the air expands in the middle ear and flows to the outside via a connection called the Eustachian tube. The air in the sinuses escapes via the nose. On descending, the reverse occurs via the same connections. To assist in this flow of air and avoid pain in the ear or sinuses, it is helpful to periodically swallow, chew or yawn during the descent. Babies often cry, and this has the same effect. |
In order that these mechanisms work efficiently, it is not advisable to fly with an infection of the ear, nose or sinuses, as the swelling, which occurs with this infection, can prevent free flow of air and result in pain, bleeding or in the most severe cases, a ruptured ear drum.