I have throat infection and inner ear problem. Can I fly?

Q. Is it safe to fly with eustachian tube dysfunction?

Answered by
Dr. Vinay. S. Bhat
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 10, 2020 and last reviewed on: Aug 01, 2023

Hello doctor,

I have a metal taste in the mouth, hoarse voice, and scratchy throat. I am not on any medicines or vitamin supplements. I have not changed my diet in any way, and my dental hygiene is very good. I am allergic to Aspirin and have no health issues at all.I also have two inner ear conditions. Both are somewhat rare. In the right, semicircular canal dehiscence and in the left patulous eustachian tube dysfunction. What I want to know is whether I can fly, take an airplane without getting ill and sustain further inner ear damage?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

Though the history you have given is insufficient to come to any conclusion about the possible causes, I will give information about the common conditions which can have such symptoms. The most common cause for scratchy throat with hoarse voice is routine throat infections such as acute pharyngotonsillitis or acute laryngitis which usually resolves with simple antibiotics and mouth gargles. The next common cause which can present similarly is reflux laryngopharyngitis which is a type of acidity related disorder. In this condition, constant reflux of digestive acid into the throat causes injury to taste buds, vocal cords, and throat which leads to symptoms such as change of voice, and change in taste. In general people with reflux, laryngopharyngitis will have symptoms such as burning sensation in chest, repeated burping, chest tightness, dryness of throat, etc. Regarding your inner ear conditions, super semicircular canal dehiscence is a rare inner ear condition. In this condition, there will be giddiness and imbalance when exposed to loud noise and echoing of once own voice, etc. This condition usually does not get worsened by the change in environmental pressure. So air travel would not be an issue in this condition. In any case, keep anti-vertigo medications such as Stemetil handy when you fly. Patulous eustachian tube is a condition involving the middle ear and nose. My guess is because of the similarity in symptoms you have given in both the diagnoses, I can say that if there is vertigo then it is superior canal dehiscence. If there is no vertigo chances of patulous eustachian tube are high. In any case, people with patulous eustachian tube will have a certain degree of pressure symptoms in ear when they fly, but most of the time it would not be very severe. You can use simple saline nasal spray before boarding the flight and every two hours in the air to reduce symptoms.

Hello, Thanks for your response. The only thing I can add is that a year and half ago I was told that my gallbladder needed to be removed. At that time it wasn’t given me a lot of trouble but recently I have had a lot of acid reflex in my throat, where at times I could almost vomit. I sleep on a slight angle to help that problem, it seems to be worse depending on my diet. I also have a knot in my throat a lot of the time. It’s not something visual on outside no swollen glands, just when I swallow seems to be there. Where my gallbladder is located I do periodically have sharp pain there. Could this all be stemming from that gallbladder?


Thanks for detailed history about the acid reflux problem. Gall bladder issues such as cholelithiasis or cholecystitis are one of common causes for acid reflux and acidity. Repeated reflux of acid causes injury to throat tissues which causes symptoms what you are having. You may need to take acid reflux medications for three weeks to reduce your symptoms. This condition is not directly related to gall bladder but indirectly related to acidity causes by gall bladder disorders

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