Friday, April 8, 2011

It's flying time again...

Ray Charles, please forgive me for stealing your line, well almost: "It's crying time again." Simply stated, flying often causes additional pain, stress, and tears to those who have facial pain. The pressure changes in the cabin, the noise of the plane and its passengers, and the stress created by airport security issues seem to be enough to give a healthy person a headache. If you're reading this blog, chances are you experience pain that defies definition.

The causes of facial pain vary from one individual to another, and often the cause or diagnosis is difficult to pinpoint. If you have concerns about flying exacerbating your pain, a discussion with your physician or health care practitioner may be beneficial.

Some physicians will recommend that their patients clear their sinuses with a decongestant before flying. They may prescribe medication to help deal with the noise, stress, or other issues related to being a passenger on aircraft.

Because some individuals pain is triggered by noise, two products worth mentioning are Earplanes, earplugs that are made specifically for flying. You can find them online, drug stores, and airport shops. Another option more expensive: noise cancelling earphones or headsets. Although these tools can be helpful, passengers are asked to refrain from using them until the flight instructions have been given and the plane has begun it's flight. They must also be removed just before the end of the journey so information from the flight crew will be heard. You may want to check with the airline to find the current policy is about when the acoustic headphones can and cannot be used.

For those of us whose pain is caused by the jaw or neck, a tiny pillow to give added support can help quite a bit. It's one more thing to carry, but the number of these items are often limited on the plane. Unless one is flying business class, a pillow may not be available.

Fear of flying embraces a new meaning for those who have experienced trigeminal neuralgia, TMJD, or other types of facial pain. Have you heard the expression of living on a wing and a prayer. I think it really fits this situation. How about you?

Happy traveling. May your journey be full of the Lord's mercies.

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  1. I really appreciate this. i have had TN now for about 8 months. I am schduled to travel to Asia and Europe in two weeks. I am terrified and think I need to cancel even though thee are "dream" trips for me. I dread the possibility of attacks on the plane or in the airport. It's scary to think of them, but it's sad to think of letting this disorder take away my dreams. ....yet I think i will need to concede on this to be safe. The thought of the pain and the pain -- if it surfaces -- are too frightening. Frances

  2. Frances,

    Thank you for sharing your concerns. I am hoping you will have a good discussion with a trusted medical expert. I understand the need to feel safe. Hold onto your dreams; TN can present itself in terrible episodes, but we don't have to let it steal the rest of our lives. I hope to hear from you again.

  3. which just makes me angry because it doesnt help. Its a trivial thing for everyone else, but its hell for me, and no one else 'gets it'. Click Here