Don’t Let Flying be a Pain in the Ear for your Family!

If your summer vacation includes a plane ride, read up on tips for avoiding ear pain as a result of changes in air pressure…

While flying, air pressure decreases as you go higher and increases as you go lower. If the pressure isn’t equalized, the higher air pressure pushes on one side of the eardrum and causes pain. That explains why so many babies cry during those last few minutes of the flight, when the air pressure in the cabin increases as the plane prepares to land.

But the pain is only temporary — it won’t cause any lasting problems for kids and usually will subside within a few minutes.

Some simple things to try during air travel can help equalize the air pressure in your child’s ears and eliminate, or at least decrease, ear pain.
• Drink plenty of decaffeinated fluids (water is best) throughout the flight. Drinking a lot is very important, not only because it encourages swallowing (which makes the eustachian tubes open), but also because airplane air is dry, which thickens nasal mucus, making it more likely for the eustachian tubes to become clogged.
• Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen about a half hour before takeoffs or landings if you know your child has ear pain when flying.
• Chew gum or suck on hard candy (only if your child is over 3 years old).
• Take a bottle or pacifier or breastfeed. If you bottle-feed, make sure your baby is sitting upright while drinking.
• Yawn frequently (if your child can do this intentionally).
• Stay awake for takeoff and landing. During sleep, we don’t swallow as often, so it’s harder to keep the air pressure in the middle ear equalized.
• If your child is taking medications that contain antihistamines or decongestants, talk to your doctor about whether to continue them during the flight.

In some cases, a child may continue to have ear pain for longer periods (up to several hours) if the ears don’t “pop.” You can continue to give your child pain relievers according to the package directions until the pain eases. If it continues for more than several hours, call your doctor for advice.

With a little patience and some simple precautions, though, you can make your next family flight less stressful and more comfortable for both you and your child.

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    Hit the Road Safely this Holiday Weekend

    Taking a road trip can be a fun way for the family to spend a holiday weekend together. But it also can make for antsy passengers if they don’t have enough to keep them entertained. Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and content on the road this Labor Day weekend.

    • Keep a first aid kit on hand hat contains antacids, throat lozenges, antiseptic cream, bandages, antibacterial wipes, insect repellant, sunscreen and aloe gel for sunburns. You also may want to include decongestants or antihistamines for allergies. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications family members regularly take.
    • Stock up on plenty of nutritious snacks and drinks to supplement meal stops. Nonperishable items make the best and safest road food. Be sure to include water. Keeping your passengers hydrated will help them avoid fatigue and light-headedness.
    • Bring a “fun bag” stuffed with favorite books, games, and other items your kids enjoy.
    • Make sure your car is running well to avoid any roadside emergencies. Have your car checked for necessary repairs and, if necessary, have it serviced before leaving. Pack an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, flares and equipment for changing a tire, just in case.

    Hope you and your loved ones enjoy a memorable – and safe – road trip!

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    CHOC Offers Safe Holiday Travel Tips

    AAA predicts that 87.7 million Americans will hit the roads during the year-end holidays, the busiest travel period of the year.  Most of these are families traveling with cargo more precious than any holiday gifts – their children.  CHOC encourages drivers to follow these tips to help keep passengers safe on the roads this busy travel season.

    • Get plenty of rest before you set off on your destination.
    • The night before you leave, avoid alcohol or any medication that might impair your driving.
    • If you are traveling a long distance, plan to have rest stops.  Young children can get anxious in the car.  A few stops along the way can allow them to release some anxious energy, while providing respite to the driver!
    • Allow extra time for delays and traffic, so you are not tempted to speed.
    • Pack snacks for yourself and your passengers.
    • To avoid unnecessary spills, bring plastic cups with their own lids and straws.
    • Bring plenty of “boredom busters” for kids.  Car-friendly games, puzzles, coloring books, small computer games, and portable CD players with headsets can keep little ones occupied. 
    • And, be sure everyone is properly buckled up.

    Wishing you safe travels!