Fear of Flying
Flying can be a source of fear and tension for some people. Some of the reasons for this can be a feeling of loss of control, claustrophobia, panic attacks, fear of heights, or fear of death. Generally, this fear arises from not being properly informed about flying and aircraft. In fact, aircraft are among the safest and most comfortable means of transport. By learning more about flying and trying to keep calm, fear of flying can be overcome.
Measures you can take against the fear of flying
The best way to beat the fear of flying is to keep your mind occupied and stress under control. By using the techniques below, you'll enjoy a comfortable and stress-free flight.
- Be sure to listen to your reason, not your feelings. 99.9% of flights encounter no problems whatsoever.
- When you start to worry, make sure you tell yourself you are perfectly safe. Focus on the things you're going to enjoy when you arrive at your destination.
- If something is worrying you, talk to the cabin crew about it. The reasoned explanation they’ll provide should help you relax.
- Make sure you have any personal belongings with you which make you feel more at ease. These might include a small blanket, pillow, shall, slippers or a comfortable t-shirt. Your favorite soft toy or food can also make feel more relaxed.
- Listen to some soothing music or the sounds of nature via the in-flight entertainment system to help you relax. Close your eyes, pull up your blanket, try to relax your muscles and take deep breaths. Focus on the music or sounds you're listening to.
- If you feel as if you're going to lose control of your emotions or your concentration, do some simple exercises to relieve stress.
- Doing some in-cabin exercises will help burn the excess energy which may be causing stress. Starting with your feet, tense each muscle as much as you can, working your way up through your body. Keep your muscles tense for as long as you can, then slowly relax them. Drink a little water, take some deep breaths and repeat this exercise if needed.
- After take-off, do something to take your mind off flying. Watch a film, listen to music, eat something, or read a book or magazine. Taking your mind off flying will help you stay relaxed. You could also try chatting with someone, solving crosswords, playing games, or using your laptop or tablet to help stay relaxed.
- Tell yourself you enjoy flying. Keep your thoughts positive and smile. Take your seat, and reassure yourself that you're safe.
- Try to sleep. This is especially important on long-haul flights.
Locked Nose and Ear Trouble
Increased levels of airborne bacteria as a result of low humidity, dry air and a stuffy environment can lead to sinus problems, as can the changes in pressure during take-off and landing. But there are a few measures you can take to reduce the negative effects which flying can have on your sinuses.
Blocked nose while flying
A blocked nose is not directly related to take-off or landing. Pressure changes in the cabin are not significant enough to negatively affect breathing through your nose.
Air circulation while flying
The reduced levels of moisture in the air coming from the ventilation system and circulating around the cabin can lead to a blocked nose.
Medications to relieve a blocked nose
If your blocked nose is caused by allergies, use the medication recommended to you by your doctor. Take an antihistamine one hour before flying. Nasal sprays containing decongestants and tablets containing pseudoephedrine can also help relieve a blocked nose. These medicines should be taken one hour before flying.
Natural remedies to relieve a blocked nose
Breathing in the steam from a hot drink or drinking 5-10 cups of water will help restore the moisture in your nose and will relieve the symptoms of a blocked nose. Mints and menthol chewing gum can also help relieve your blocked nose.
Using nasal sprays
Use a nasal spray which contains a decongestant half an hour before flying. On short-haul journeys lasting 2-3 hours, you may have to take an additional dose while flying. On long-haul journeys, take a dose every 2-3 hours. If your doctor has recommended a spray containing corticosteroids, you should start using this about a week before your flight.
Keeping hydrated with a blocked nose
Drinking herbal teas, sparkling water, and mineral water can help you enjoy a more pleasant journey.
Medications which cause a blocked nose
Diuretic drugs can lead to dryness and blockages in the nose. In addition, medications with sildenafil citrate as the active ingredient, and birth control pills can lead to nasal congestion.
Things to avoid when you have a blocked nose
Sniffing or blowing your nose aggressively will not help a blocked nose. However, breathing in deeply through your nose during take-off can stabilize the pressure in your sinuses and reduce any pain. When landing, maneuvers such as the Valsalva maneuver will help stabilize pressure.
Blocked noses in infants and children
Moisten your infant's nose with seawater or salt water every hour. If recommended by your doctor, children over the age of three can use suspensions containing pseudoephedrine or decongestant sprays.
Seeking medical help for a blocked nose
If your blocked nose or headache persists for 24 hours after your flight, consult your doctor.
Ear trouble when flying
Discomfort in the ears while flying is usually a result of changes in air pressure. Pressure changes, especially during ascent and descent, can cause pain in the ears. Changes in pressure will affect infants, and those suffering with colds or sinus complaints, hay fever, or inner ear infections. However, there are a few measures you can take while flying to help reduce ear discomfort.
- Valsalva maneuver:Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils with your fingers, and try to exhale. As the air has nowhere to escape, it’s forced into the inner ear.
- Frenzel maneuver:Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils with your fingers. Press the base of your tongue up on the roof of your mouth. Then move the tip of the tongue forwards and backward to activate the mouth muscles and open the Eustachian tubes.
- Toynbee maneuver:Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils with your fingers. Then try to swallow. This will open Eustachian tubes and allow air to be discharged from the inner ear.
- Edmonds technique:Thrust your jaw forward while carrying out the Valsalva or Frenzel maneuver to make them more effective.
- Lowry technique:Swallow while carrying out the Valsalva maneuver. In addition to these, you can suck on a hard candy as the aircraft descends. Engage the swallowing muscles and this will open the Eustachian tubes. Swallowing will occur more frequently when chewing or sucking on hard candy.
To help reduce discomfort for infants, have them suck on a pacifier during take-off and landing. The sucking action will help open the Eustachian tubes.
We recommended you don't sleep as the aircraft makes its descent. This is because the metabolism works more slowly while sleeping. This can cause a greater difference in pressure between the external environment and the inner ear.
A common method used to alleviate the effects of pressure changes is yawning frequently. However, yawning won't help reduce ear pain. Instead, pinch your nose with your fingers to close your nostrils. Let a little air into your mount, then try to blow this air through your nose. You'll hear a "pop" because the air can't escape through your nose. Breathe through your mouth after you hear this sound. Continue this pressure equalization technique after landing. You can also use nasal sprays and decongestants. If you can't feel your ears pop or if discomfort continues, consult a physician.
Medication should be used first for problems arising as a result of barotrauma. If medication is unable to treat the problem, surgical remedies such as the fitting of an inner ear tube may help. There is no danger associated with flying with ear tubes.