Question…… Hi Dr. Katie, My children and I are flying across the country to visit my parents for the holidays. We are supposed to leave in two days, but my 16 month old was just diagnosed with an ear infection. Is it safe to fly, or will the cabin pressure make her ear infection worse?
Answer……Working in Florida, I see a lot of tourists coming through the emergency room. The number one question I get from tourists is, can I travel home if my child has an ear infection? We ask parents to use caution when flying with a child who has an ear infection because of the pressure that can potentially build up in the ear. The fluid or infection that is sitting behind your child’s ear drum prevents pressure from equalizing. Air travel, especially during landing, can become very painful for a child that has an ear infection. I would consider changing your flight, depending on the severity of the infection. If you attempt to travel, you can try and alleviate the pressure by yawning, blowing up a balloon, or blowing bubbles through a straw into a full cup of water. Encourage your child to open their mouth widely. With infants, the easiest way to alleviate the pressure is to breast-feed or give them a bottle.