Traveling with a head cold?

On the downside of a bad cold, I got on a plane today. The air pressure caused my ears to “plug up.” Can’t get them unplugged and it’s been several hours since I landed. I also have to get back on a plane in a few days. Anything I can do or take to unplug my ears and keep the same thing from happening in a few day?

Pseudoephedrine will work well.

Hi- I fly for a living so this comes up from time to time. Eustachian tubes allow you to equalize pressure in your ears, and it sounds like your Eustachian tubes are blocked.

I’ll second the Sudafed. I actually buy a med called Bronkaid that combines the ephedrine with guaifenesin. Thins the mucus and helps open you up.

Neti pot- best thing ever for congestion. Might take several tries to start things clearing.

Aleve - Was recently recommended this by my GP, who suggested that it may help take down some swelling, and help the tubes to open.

and, in case of emergency- Afrin or something similar. Stay away from this kind of nasal spray if you can, there is a rebound effect that can be worse than the original congestion, plus it’s addictive. While you will have pain while ascending, it is usually the pain on descent that is worse. If the pain in the climb is real bad, might want to consider the Afrin a little while before descent starts.

You can also speak with a Flight Attendant and tell them you have a bad ear block. You can ask one of them to let you know when the descent is imminent, so you can prepare with the Afrin. I’ve had messages from FAs before letting me know about severe sinus/ear blocks from a passenger in the back and have tried to adjust the descent to be a little kinder on the ears. (to the extent possible, given ATC)

Please be cautious about flying with an ear block; if it’s really bad, a rupture can happen, and I can tell you from experience that it’s an extremely painful thing.

Also, while on the ground, keep chewing gum because moving the jaw can help.

Walgreens sells something called “Mucus Relief Sinus” in a red box. Take with water to have it thin your mucus and then chew gum. Stay upright. Oh, and when you are at Walgreen’s, also pick up some earPlanes for the return trip. And wear them. (All just suggestions, of course.)

Be aware that when your ear unblocks, it can be terribly painful and it will likely make you dizzy when it happens. Grab something to keep you steady and stand still until the worst of the effect is over.

Be careful. I once had a very congested ear (not just a cold or sinus infection), so I thought I was safe with the decongestants that I took.

During a painful ascent, I suddenly had a very intense and sharp pain in my left ear; it very quickly subsided…and I had fluid running out of my ear canal. The drainage from the infection was relieved by the eardrum rupturing. It all came out fine, but the experience is one I won’t forget.

Pay attention to the good advice above!

I fill both nostrils with nose spray about an hour before landing. It helps a lot.