Is flying in your travel plans for 2019? We’ve compiled some commonly-asked questions that we get from our patients who will be travelling by plane.
Do I need to protect my hearing while flying?
The noise level in a typical flight can vary throughout the trip. Take-off and landing are typically the loudest, reaching levels of up to 105 dB inside the cabin. At cruising altitudes, levels typically average 85 dB. Exposure to noise at this level for more than 8 hours may cause damage to your ears. If you are a frequent flyer, or plan to be on a long overseas flight, we highly recommend wearing hearing protection.
If you are going to be using headphones during your flight, we recommend using over-the-ear headphones, preferably with noise-cancellation capabilities. The over-the-ear headphones will block out some of the cabin noise, hopefully keeping you from feeling the need to turn up the volume on your headphones.
How can I minimize ear pain or discomfort when I fly?
You can try using EarPlanes. These small, blue-silicone, disposable pressure-regulating earplugs attenuate up to 20 decibels and help equalize air pressure in the ear. Put EarPlanes in 40 minutes before descent and right before ascent, if needed. Insert them properly by tugging your earlobe up and back.
Swallowing manually opens the Eustachian tube, stimulating the natural process of air pressure equalization in the middle ear. Therefore, eating, drinking, or chewing may also help reduce discomfort during your flight.
You could also try taking a decongestant and nasal spray one hour before ascent, and 30 minutes before landing if the flight takes more than four hours. One negative to decongestant use, however, is that it may make you more prone to sleep during the flight, which means less swallowing.
Can I wear my hearing aids while flying?
Yes, you can wear your hearing aids during your flight. Hearing aids and pacemakers are not subject to the same rules regarding the use of portable electronic devices on airplanes, therefore, you are free to use your hearing aid in-flight. However, FM systems are considered in the same category as cell phones and thus must be powered off during the flight.
It would also be a great idea to use your hearing aid’s pre-set noise reduction program to reduce in-flight noises that your device may pick up. If you’re not sure whether your device has this, go ahead and ask your audiologist before your flight.
You can usually wear your hearing aids through security. It most likely will not set off the metal detectors, but it is always best to let the security agent know first that you are wearing hearing aids before going through. If they ask that you remove your hearing aids and put them through the x-ray machine, it will not harm your hearing aids.
So, are your ears ready for flight? If you need hearing protection, EarPlanes, hearing aid batteries, or hearing aid programming for your flight, please call our office today to consult with one of our audiologists!