If you suffer from nasal allergies, you know that many simple activities can feel more difficult when your head is full and clogged. And this can be magnified when you step on a plane to fly, since at 30,000 feet in the air it is even more difficult to control your environment and changes in air pressure in the cabin can make you miserable as the plane begins to climb.

Possible Complications

When flying with nasal allergies, you may be particularly concerned about experiencing your symptoms while you are in transit, and about being so far removed from medical care and treatment if you should need it. How you can best handle such a scenario depends on what your triggers are and what type of reaction you might get. But knowing these facts can help you to devise a plan that can make flying with allergies manageable and can minimize possible complications that can occur.

Nasal Allergies

You may have seasonal allergies that are already in full bloom when you board the flight. Or, it could be that your allergies are sparked by things like cleaning supplies, perfumes and other air-borne allergens  you may encounter in the closed airplane cabin space when there is nowhere to escape.

In either case, you may need to take an antihistamine or decongestant before you fly. You should also always carry your asthma medications with you if respiratory symptoms are a concern. In addition, if an anaphylactic reaction is possible, you should have an epinephrine injection easily accessible in an emergency.

The Ear Connection

If you've ever flown with a cold or allergies, you know how much pressure the flight can put on your congested ears. In fact, one expert speculates that as many as one-third of travelers can experience ear discomfort even if they aren't sick. But when you add nasal symptoms into the mix, your likelihood of ear pain or clogging increases a great deal and can even put you at risk for your eardrum to become infected with fluid or even to burst in extreme cases.

While some people try chewing gum or using steam to reduce the pressure, some doctors say this really won't do the trick. They recommend, instead, trying any (or all) of these easy tips when flying with nasal allergies:

  • Swallow or yawn in order to open up the ears and reduce the pressure that exists.
  • Close your mouth and hold your nose, then forcing air through your nostrils to equalize pressure on your eardrums.
  • Use a nasal decongestant spray a few hours before you get on the plane.
  • Wear ear plugs while you fly to keep air from getting inside your eardrum.

All of these methods may actually help  you to keep your equilibrium and enjoy your trip without feeling sick.