Do changes in air pressure in aeroplanes cause headache?
Q: I am a frequent traveller and recently travelled on a flight and on landing due to the change in the atmospheric pressure, I had severe pain in the ears (nose was blocked at that time due to cold / sinus). After landing, it became normal but I had an headache for 2 days. During this time and after the headache had gone, though the hearing was perfect with no signs of blockage in the ear, when yawning, etc I could feel slight clicks in the ear. Also, in the morning when I clear the phlegm through my mouth, it is brownish in colour, though this happens only once in the morning. Could you please let me know what this is and your advice?
A:You already know a lot about it; it is true that the tube connecting the ear and the back of the nose and throat gets blocked during cold and sneezing and when you come down in a flight, the pressure changes can give rise to pain, deafness, bleeding, headache etc. It is good that your hearing is normal and the blockage is gone. The clicking sound on yawning, swallowing, sneezing, cleaning the nose etc is because the enormous pressure created by these acts, changes the pressure gradient in the tube and the ear drum thus moves due to the air inside being compressed. The phlegm of brown colour is due to the overnight phlegm produced normally by the layer of the nose and throat gets dried up and collects dust, bacteria, soot etc and thus the colour change. Don't clean your nose and throat forcibly, don't hawk and drink plenty of water. Use an ordinary nasal drop 1 hour before boarding any flight and keep awake, chewing and swallowing during the descent of the flight.