My Ears Hurt in Flight – Otitic Barotrauma

Barotrauma of the ears, Otitic Barotruama (a.k.a Otic Barotruama or Aero-otitis media) can occurs during ascent or descent in flying. This can also occur during hypoxia demonstration in decompression chamber. Divers during under-water operations, and patients in hyperbaric chamber may also suffer from barotrauma. The primary reason of Otitic Barotruama is pressure differential, either negative or positive, between the air in the middle ear cavity and the atmosphere, especially in presence of sore throat or cold. Continue reading

My Ears Hurt in Flight – Barotrauma

In my haste to complete my syllabus sortie, despite of a recovering cold, I went ahead for the sortie that morning. As I climbed, I had some difficulty in clearing my ears. But when I started my descent to come back to land, I realised that I could not equalise pressure in my middle ears, despite vigorous attempts of Valsalva. As I continued descent there, I had an excruciating pain in my ears, as if it is going to burst. I called out on RT about my unbearable pain, …and landed with great difficulty.” Continue reading

Orientation & Pilot Training – Likely Lacunae!

James Doolittle made history on 24 September 1929, when he took off, flew a distance of 20 miles and landed an airplane by instruments alone [1]. The array of instruments included the Sperry Horizon, precursor of the artificial horizon, which still remains the essential instrument for maintaining orientation in flight.  Continue reading

Say NO! To Self-Medication: Adverse Effects of Some Common Drugs

Adverse effects of some of the common drugs are discussed hereafter.

Antibiotics. There are many aprescribed for use in an outpatient consultation. Pilots too may be prescribed antibiotics on occasion, where the treating doctor may inform about specific side effects of the prescribed drug. Yet it is important to be aware of some general side effects or reactions of the wide-range of antibiotics, old and new, available for dispensing. Continue reading

Say NO! To Self-Medication: Beware of Effects of Drugs

In deciding whether to temporarily make a pilot unfit to fly while on medication, it is important to analyse the effects of the drug, and then relate these effects to the mission and the likely aviation stresses, besides the individual’s role in the mission. For instance, loose motions and/or vomiting (Gastroenteritis, the commonest cause of in-flight incapacitation), the illness itself should decide unfitness of the pilot to fly. When the effects of the drug compromise an individual’s ability to perform effectively and safely, and when those effects decrease his/her ability to withstand the stresses of flight or an unlikely survival situation, temporary unfitness for flying duty is a mandatory advise. On the other hand, when prior testing has shown the drug to accomplish its purpose and to produce no adverse side effects, the airline/squadron doctor may decide to prescribe the drug for use in flight when it is necessary for accomplishment of a mission. Such an example might be say, prescription of anti-motion sickness drugs for student pilots, accompanied by an instructor, for their first few sorties.  Continue reading