Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cholesteatoma and Airplane Travel

I recently went on a trip to Mexico for a couple weeks. As I've had more ear surgeries I am more and more prone to motion sickness, so I got a prescription from my ear doctor for Transderm Scop, which is a patch I put behind my ear a few hours before an airplane flight. The medicine works wonderfully in preventing motion sickness, but has some annoying side affects: a VERY dry mouth, drowsiness and sometimes blurred vision. I need to put the patch behind my ear about four hours before take-off, and a few hours after take-off is when I start to get the driest throat in the world--it's so dry that I need to always suck on hard candy or a cough drop. I make sure to ALWAYS bring along a bottle of water, but in spite of all I try, my throat is aching. I've just gotten used to be uncomfortable because I would rather have this symptom than get motion sickness.

Well, on this last trip, the flight to Mexico went really well, and besides the sore throat, which I totally prepared for and expected anyway, it was a pretty smooth ride. Then for the ride home, I needed to get up really early in the morning to catch the flight, and slept really poorly that night before, so I just felt like "blah" when I put the patch on in the a.m. Then, it was a full day of travel when you take into consideration all the time needed at the airport prior to take-off, customs when we reached the United States, and then another flight to our home state.

Maybe it was just because I was excited to get home that it seemed like the trip took FOREVER, but I noticed that because I had less patience, it seemed like my irritating patch side effects were even more irritating. Sometimes I wonder if I should just try the next flight I take without the medicine?

Noooo! The fear of getting sick is far too great to take the chance! Instead, I will continue to prepare by bringing plenty of throat lozenges, bottles of water, and try to get a better night's sleep the night before take-off. It is simply the price I pay as someone who is prone to getting sick on airplane flights. Much better to do the preparation and go anyway than to not go at all right?

Note: This blog is intended to educate readers about cholesteatoma by explaining how it has impacted my life. Any questions can be directed to me at any time!


  1. Dear Lisa,

    Thank you so much for all the valuable information. I'm 23, and am about to get a surgery for two cholesteatomas in my left ear. I'm tensed and worried, this blog gives me great comfort.


  2. This blog is great. I am having a canal wall down mastoidectomy in 2 weeks with possible cholesteatoma. How was your recovery? What is having a CWD like? Are you still dizzy most of the time? My email address is

  3. Dear Lisa,

    Do you know if there is any risk to flying with cholesteatomas before surgery? I recently found out that I may have a cyst in my left ear and I'm concerned that flying might make the condition worse. Thank you for any advice you can give.


  4. Just found your blog. My son, who is 7 years old, will undergo his 7th surgery for removal of cholesteatoma/tympanoplasty, on Thursday. The reoccurring surgeries are really starting to weigh on him. Were your 8 surgeries close together or over a long period of time? The Dr.s determined that my son's cholesteatoma was also congenital. They had originally told us that with him being born with it, there was less of a chance of it reoccurring, however that has not been the case. I would love to hear more about your situation and anything you have found helpful in dealing with your situation. Feel free to email me. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Hi. I work as flight attendant, I fly a lot, and I have cholesteatoma. Surgery will be in May, I have pain in my ear, but dont see other way. Is it very bad to fly with it?

  6. i have been diagnosed this week and need it operation to remove it can i fly in august to england so am worried about risking it as my ear feels like it will exlode behind it

  7. have been diagnosed , waiting appointment to see surgeon , have lot of pressure in left ear feels like it is going to explode , have to fly in august to england so am worried if it will be ok ? to fly