You asked

My child has an ear infection. Is it safe to fly?

Deciding whether or not to fly when your child has an ear infection will depend on just how bad the ear infection is. If your child has a mild or moderate ear infection, your doctor may be able to prescribe antibiotics that will help. However, if your child has a more serious infection, you may want to postpone the trip.

An acute or bulging ear infection can cause your child a lot of pain during the flight, particularly during takeoff or landing. In extreme cases, it may even cause your child’s eardrums to burst, which may result in long-term hearing trouble.

The best solution, if you discover that your child has an ear infection, is to visit your doctor as soon as you notice it. He or she will probably prescribe antibiotics, and you will probably be able to see within a day or two whether they are helping to ease the pain and swelling.

If your child is okay to fly, give him or her a decongestant or antihistamine designed for children about an hour before you fly, and make sure that your child has a bottle or sippy cup to suck during takeoff and landing, to help relieve the pressure. Keeping a child safe painkiller on hand during the flight is a good idea, and if you can find child sized earplugs, they may also help to make the trip a little less painful for your child.

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