Why delay your flight for a head cold?

You’re all set to get the heck out of this icy Aussie winter. Flights booked. Bags packed. Sunny skies ahead! Then, BAM, right before Go Time, you’re side-swiped by a nasty head cold. But you’re a trooper and you’re not going to let that get in the way of beaches and mojitos, right? Well…I don’t want to put a damper on your vacation but think twice before stepping foot on that plane.

When you travel with a bad cold, sinus or ear infection, you place yourself at risk of experiencing a pain that’ll make you involuntarily grip the arm of the passenger next to you and swear through clenched teeth that you’ll never fly sick again.

I hate to say it, but delaying your flight, or at the very least seeing your doctor or audiologist for inspection and medication, could be a good idea. Complications of ‘airplane ear’ or ‘barotrauma’ can render you incapacitated for well over a week, and you’re going to have to weigh up whether the potential lasting damage to your hearing is worth the holiday.

But, sometimes you’ve really got to grit your teeth and bear it and get on that bl**dy plane. If that’s the case, here are a few things you can do to reduce the pain:

  • If possible, start taking Sudafed or similar at least 48 hours before your flight. Take it every 6 hours and continue for 24 hours after you’ve landed. This will shrink the membranes in the sinus and ear.
  • Before you board, use a decongestant spray. Some doctors recommend using the spray every 5 minutes for 15 minutes, about 45 minutes prior to arrival.
  • During the flight, yawn, chew gum and swallow to help keep the Eustachian tube open. You can also try to get your hands on some decongestant lozenges.
  • Stay hydrated, but avoid alcohol or caffeine as these substances will just dry your nasal system out.

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