Flying with Tinnitus

For many people, aeroplane travel can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, for those with tinnitus the thought of ear ringing, pain and fullness during flight can cause considerable anxiety.

Changes to the pressure within the cabin and engine noise can cause concern for tinnitus sufferers as it can cause a temporary hearing loss, which makes the symptoms (or sounds) of tinnitus seem worse as our brains focus on the dominant sound.

In most cases, flying will not cause any long-term damage to hearing or tinnitus symptoms, however, there are several tips to follow to ensure a comfortable flight.

Engine Noises
Many people worry that the engine noise may be damaging to their ears and cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen.

The levels of the engine noise in the cockpit are not sufficient to damage our hearing, although some find the constant drone of them tiring.  If you are worried about the engine noise, try sitting in the front of the plane or around the front of the wings, as this can help reduce the engine sound.

Pressure Changes
Things like chewing gum and sucking on sweets can help equalise the air pressure during take-off and descent, as this increases the amount you swallow. The Eustachian tube releases built-up pressure in our ear that causes the popping sensation when there is a change in air pressure.

Some other tips to help with air travel and tinnitus include:
  • Try to stay awake during descent.  Descent is the part of the plane ride where you have a harder time adjusting to the pressure changes. Your Eustachian tube and ears don’t adjust as well when you are sleeping so it’s important to stay awake during this time.
  • If you wear hearing aids leave them in for the duration of the flight. More background noise can sometimes help drown out some of your tinnitus symptoms.
  • The stress and worry of flying with tinnitus can cause other psychological and physiological issues. Taking your focus off your symptoms by reading or watching inflight entertainment can help to reduce stress.

We hope you have a great trip and safe travels. Contact us for a hearing assessment, at any of our centres. Find your closest centre here.