Hello TMJ Friends, I need to fly at the end of Feb for work and again in March for my son's graduation. I've been having ear pain and pressure problems for over two years now. A few ENTS have diagnosed TMJ as the cause and some others have said that I may have MAV as well. I can't seem to pop the one ear especially and if I plug my nose and gently blow (trying to equalize pressure), it feels like something is blocking the ear and if I keep blowing my ear feels like it will burst. I'm so afraid that my ear(s) will feel this way in the plane. I'm not as afraid of feeling vertigo or dizziness half as much as I'm afraid my ears will hurt or get that totally blocked feeling after flying. Should I risk it not really understanding what my ear problems are from? Also, I've read about taking Sudafed and Benadryl w/ nasal spray before the flight. Why exactly would this help? I don't have any congestion or allergy issues. I also wanted to be able to take a little valium (half a pill) to help me calm down because I have so much anxiety about flying. Can I mix all these medications? My ears give me so much trouble on the ground on a daily basis, I can't imagine what it will feel like on the plane and it's not like I can stop and get off if it gets really bad. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
With my TMJD, my original symptom was an ear that was "stuffy" and wouldn't pop. In fact, it didn't actually pop for about a full year. I then developed muscle spasms that felt like intense ear infections.
I'm not sure what is right or wrong, but I flew multiple times during the year my ear was stuffy without any problems. I also live in a high altitude area and some daytrips result in changes in altitude enough that it warrents my ears poping. While it can be uncomfortable, it really wasn't too bad, just disconcerting. I didn't do anything special for my travels.
I'd recommend if you are really concerned, visit an ENT. They are best suited to give you some advice. In fact, my ENT helped in part of my TMJD treatment by prescribing some low dose muscle relaxers to help during the periods my muscles were spasming at their worst so I could get a bit of sleep. The ear pain can really keep a person awake.
Have you tried seeing a massage therapist or physical therapist yet? If they have the proper training, they can help loosen up your muscles and do trigger point releases to help with your ear problems as part of your TMJD treatment.
Oh, thanks MountainReader. I appreciate your reply. It's good to know that flying went OK for you, especially since we do seem to have very similar ear problems from TMJD. I do have that stuffy feeling in my ear and I can never seem to get it to pop. It feels like it needs to but I can only get it to pop half way, if there is such a thing. Because my ear is so bad all the time here on the ground, I imagined that the pressure in the plane would cause all kinds of problems. I work very hard to keep my ear open and I was very worried that the flight will cause it to block...or I would be in terrible pain...or both.
What I've done in terms of treatment is multiple ENT's, chiros, acupuncture, oral surgeon to get a night guard. I did have a TMJ eval over a year ago, but I didn't pursue because of the cost involved. I resolved that this year, I'm going to finally do something about it because I'm tired of feeling this way every single day. It's obviously not going to just magically disappear. I have another consult with a different NM dentist who treats many patients for TMJD. He is costly too, but I'm going to go through with the treatment this time. I also located a massage therapist in my area who treats TMJD. I haven't seen him yet, but plan to soon and try the treatments together.
so, you didn't do any of the Sufed, Benadryl or nasal sprays before the flight and you still didn't have any issues? This encourages me that maybe flying will be OK. I was also going to try those earplane ear plugs to see if that would work.
OOOh I feel your pain. A few years ago I was so scared my ENT punctured holes in my ears for me and gave me ear tubes. Temporary, but functional. Since then I have used a soft mouth splint made by a TMJ specialist. When fly I use these little plastic screw things called ear planes. I spray my nose upon take off with nose decogenstant and take one sudafed. For the most part works like a charm.Buy a huge water bottle in the airport and as you decend keep taking liile sips. Bring a really good book or magazines on the plane to keep your mind occupied as well. You need to keep the ear planes in the whole flight to be successful. have a great trip.
The Following User Says Thank You to itburns2004 For This Useful Post: rlat45 (01-11-2012)
Thanks MountainReader and itburns2004. Your replies are very appreciated. The trip for work has been cancelled so half my problem is solved. I do still need to fly at the end of March because there is no way I'm going to miss my son's graduation. We're booking the flight, so hopefully it will all work out. I'm going to try the Sudafed and nasal spray along with the ear plugs.
I had my TMJ consult a couple of days ago. The specialist feels very confident that all my symptoms are from TMJD. CT scan of the joints is next Tue.
Thanks again, you have put my mind at ease for now. I'm sure the anxiety will kick in as we get closer...lol!