Ear pain on descent

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    I don’t know if anyone else has ever experienced this, but it only takes ONCE before you decide that will never happen again. Many years ago I was flying a Seneca to FL from MI. I had just gotten over a cold and was feeling fit for the flight. When I descended into KTYS my ears would not clear no matter what I did and the pain was so intense that I had to abort the landing and go back up to relieve the pressure. After that I began looking for a solution and found this: Ear Pressure Plugs They can be found on Amazon.com. Anytime you are descending and feel like your ears are not “popping” simply put these earplugs in.


    Those look interesting. I wonder how well they work.

    I am a proponent of the valsalva maneuver. The trick is to clear your ears many time on the way down, more so if you are congested. If you wait until you can’t hear, your ears will either not clear or it will really hurt when they do. Another thing to do is keep a bottle of Afrin in the airplane. If you get a serious sinus block, take a big whiff of that. I heard that military fighter pilots carried this in their flight suits.


    +1 on the Afrin


    I’m with Tom – I just instinctively swallow every few seconds on the descent.


    I keep a bottle of Afrin in my 340 glove compartment and tell all my passengers to let me know of any ear problems. I use it about every 4 or 5 years and update it when it expires. The Valsalva usually works but if it doesn`t a decrease in cabin pressure with a climb and nasal spray with either Afrin or Neosynephrine is indicated. A ruptured eardrum can end a diving career and is seriously painful. Glenn Carwell MD.


    The Afrin is a good tip, thanks to everyone for sharing. I usually hold the pressurization system to no more than 500 ft/min for the cabin changes.

    One thing to keep in mind is a rapid depressurization emergency is going to be catastrophic to any eardrums with a sinus issue. I don’t recall them mentioning it in the high altitude training – but it easily could be a huge distraction and inhibit communication to center and in the cabin. For an emergency decent in any plane, it would not be a bad idea to break out the Afrin at the start if there is time.


    Not sure how these twin Cessnas work but I was in a p337 once when the avionics fan started smoking. Not knowing what was on fire the pilot turned off the master which released a pressure dump valve. Talk about instant ascent for the ears!

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