• Posted by CERC India
  • Posted in

Never sleep when a plane is taking off or landing


You have just boarded the plane and sink into your seat with a sigh of relief. You are tempted to nod off. Don’t! Wait until the plane is at cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign is switched off.

Never sleep when a plane is taking off or landing. When a plane ascends into the air or descends into its destination, the air pressure in the cabin changes rapidly with the quick changes in altitude. This affects the air pressure in the ears. Your ears feel blocked and you are unable to hear properly.

What actually happens is that a vacuum is created in the Eustachian tube, a canal that connects the middle ear to the upper throat and back of the nasal cavity. This tube controls the pressure within the middle ear. If the Eustachian tube is blocked, the air pressure in the middle ear is different from the pressure on the outside of the eardrum.

‘Popping’ the ears

If you are awake, a natural response to alleviate pressure on your eardrums is to ‘pop’ them, or open the Eustachian tubes. Air flows into or out of the middle ear and equalizes pressure on either side of the ear drum. Swallowing, yawning, drinking water, chewing gum or sucking on a boiled sweet can help pop the ears.

However, if you are sleeping, you can’t do any of these things. Your body can’t acclimatize to the pressure changes. According to MedlinePlus, a health information site by the US National Library of Medicine, if your ears stay blocked, it can create a number of health issues. These include dizziness, ear infections, nosebleeds and even eardrum damage and hearing loss.

However tempting it may be to snooze as soon as you are in your seat in a plane, wait a while. Keep your eyes open and your Eustachian tubes clear during take-off, and also during landing.


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