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Why you should never sleep on a plane again

Snoozing on a plane might lead to hearing loss, as research published by Harvard Medical School shows.

As it turns out, being asleep on a plane during a sudden change in altitude might compromise your ability to equalise the pressure in your eardrum and cause permanent damage. A sudden altitude change usually makes our ears feel like they’re about to pop, due to the fact that the pressures on the outside of your ear don’t match those on the inside, according to the Independent. Most of the time, this happens when the plane is landing and drastically drops in altitude.

The pressures can be equalised by opening the thin canal in your ear known as the Eustachian tube by yawning or swallowing, which is why air hostesses hand out chewy sweets sometimes. However, if you happen to be sleeping when the pressure changes, the Eustchian tube can get blocked. As Medicine Plus reports, ear barotrauma can occur – which is a minor condition that most people experience at one point or another. But in certain cases, when the tube gets blocked for too long, an infection can develop, leading to a build up of fluid behind the eardrum that causes pain and hearing difficulties.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to endure that you are awake when the captain announces that you’re landing, despite jet lag or lack of sleep.

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