Sign in to follow this  
Guest jonasbeaver

Pilots and ear pressure relief (?!)

Recommended Posts

Do pilots regularly clear their middle ear, by swallowing etc? Is it rare for a pilot to do the "valsalva" procedure i.e. blocking your nose and blowing into your ears?Thanks for your time :)

Share this post


Link to post
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

Some pilots regularly experience clogged Eustachian tubes, while other pilots don't have much trouble at all. A lot depends on the individual. Colds and respiratory infections can cause this problem, which is one reason to avoid flying if you're sick.Seasonal allergies can also create problems and there are several over-the-counter, FAA-approved medicines that can reduce or eliminate the symptoms.John

Share this post


Link to post

I think I had to do the valsalva once. Other then that one instance I've been pretty luck with pressure changes.

Share this post


Link to post

I have a bit of a head cold now- not bad, but just got over a nasty sinus infection. Yesterday after going to 5500 in the Warrior, my ears clogged up pretty good- really hurt for a little while. I don't do the valsalva- I just chew gum or something. I have bad ears to begin with, so it can get annoying. But it won't ground me! I would definately not fly over pattern altitude with stuffed up sinuses though.

Share this post


Link to post

Its not common but definately not unheard of for pilots to do the Valsalva method. I can generally get away with it if I swallow a few times and my ears are pretty sensitive.

Share this post


Link to post

My dad burst an eardrum once flying a 104, but the oxygen mask makes the valsalva difficult. And you're also changing altitude a lot quicker than you would in a commercial flight. Bill

Share this post


Link to post

>My dad burst an eardrum once flying a 104, but the oxygen>mask makes the valsalva difficult. And you're also changing>altitude a lot quicker than you would in a commercial flight.>>>Bill>I've always wondered how fighter jocks cope when they're climbing and diving so quickly in an unpressurized environment.I've had excruciating ear problems on descent in commercial airliners until I discovered how to clear them by, what I take must have a proper name, i.e. the valsalva procedure. I think I just discovered that on my own.BlairCYOW

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the interesting replies :)

Share this post


Link to post

Actually, the valsalva is easy to do with an O2 mask on in a couple of ways. The hard plastic outer mask shell has a cutout over the nose, that allows the pilot to pinch his nose closed through the rubber insert to perform the valsalva...the other way is to "gang load" the O2 regulator to 100% O2 under pressure, which does a pretty good job in its own right unless you're completely plugged up...Most of the newer commercial jets have pressurization controllers that are very smooth and controlled...and the newer jets pressurize to higher diff pressures than the older ones, keeping the cabin altitude lower. But a pilot with a cold or otherwise blocked eustacian tube is gonna be in a world of hurt in a rapid depress scenario. A blown eardrum is one possibility...even worse is a severe sinus block, which can produce incapacitating pain.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-VSantiago de Chile

Share this post


Link to post

>I've always wondered how fighter jocks cope when they're>climbing and diving so quickly in an unpressurized>environment.>Blair>CYOWThe fighters I flew all kept the cockpit at around 8000', until you really got high, like over 40,000. Taking a bird from sea level to say 30,000 in a max performance climb was no problem. Besides, it is coming down where you have the problems. I would assume the newer ones do an even better job.The only time you have problems is during a sudden depressurization. We were trained to handle that in altitude chamber training. I had to be decertified ever few years or so.John

Share this post


Link to post

>>>I've always wondered how fighter jocks cope when they're>>climbing and diving so quickly in an unpressurized>>environment.>>>Blair>>CYOW>>The fighters I flew all kept the cockpit at around 8000',>until you really got high, like over 40,000. Taking a bird>from sea level to say 30,000 in a max performance climb was no>problem. Besides, it is coming down where you have the>problems. >>I would assume the newer ones do an even better job.>>The only time you have problems is during a sudden>depressurization. We were trained to handle that in altitude>chamber training. I had to be decertified ever few yearsMy P51 had a low pressure demand O2 system and I used a standard WW2 mask at altitude (over 10). Ear pressure wasn't a real problem for me and I always chewed gum on long cross countries going to and from the demonstrations I flew.The Valsalva was of course always an option, but seldom needed really.I totally agree that coming back down was where you could have issues, especially if you were courting a bad head cold or sinus infection.I tried not to schedule when I was feeling that badly anyway :-)Dudley HenriquesInternational Fighter Pilots FellowshipMVP Microsoft

Share this post


Link to post

>My P51..Ok just stop right there.MY P-51...(sigh)Nothing but jealousy. :) -Greg

Share this post


Link to post

During a crappy dual ear infection / sinus infection:In the pit of the kingair 300 I fly my co-pilot could hear my sinuses releasing (squeeling!) through the live mic, sounded horrible, felt worse! In teary eyes I flew the ILS down to minimums (it was VFR but I wanted to test myself)... stupid jerk set the pressure controller too high as well and the cabin released at about 500ft, that made landing fun. Blew one drum that night with a beautiful brown goo soaked pillow, but healed well with peroxide and cleaning.I prefer sucking on a candy or swallowing to valsalva, as all that can do is increase the amount of fluid/goo in your middle ear as you blow it deeper up in there.Cheers!Jonas

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this