Helping Children Cope with Ear Pain on Flights

If you’ve taken small children on airline flights, you understand that one of the constant complaints is the nagging ear pain from the changes in pressure.  Our early solutions used the obligatory movement of the jaw and pretend yawning.  We met folks who would magically produce juice boxes early in the flight so that the sucking on the straw and swallowing would help alleviate the discomfort.  This was made moot with the banning of liquids on flights.

While on a flight with a bothered toddler, the flight attendant directed me off of the plane during a layover.  She sent me on a run to a candy kiosk for a unique solution.  She "suggested" that I purchase a bag of sour fruit-flavored gummy worms and bring them for the child.  According to the attendant, the sour flavor promotes salivation – and swallowing – while the chewing helps clear the child’s Eustachian Tube.  It’s this tube which links the back of the throat/nose and the middle ear, and clearing it equalizes the middle ear pressure with the ambient pressure.  This approach worked brilliantly and the subsequent flights have been problem-free.

At least for the ears.  I wonder if a Snickers bar quells air-sickness?

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