When Cecile and Steven Thomas boarded the plane in Utah to visit their daughters on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, they were excited to be on vacation.
A day after they arrived, Steven began experiencing sharp pains in his ears. Another day later, Cecile began experiencing the same pain.
“Each of us had one ear that hurt worse than the other,” Cecile said.
As pain spread to her eyes, head, cheeks and mouth, Cecile considered a visit to the emergency room.
“We could have gone to an emergency room but we did that with our daughter previously and it was so expensive,” Cecile said.
Cecile and her husband also considered visiting an urgent care clinic before remembering they were Global Rescue TotalCareSM members.*
Without having to travel, Cecile and Steven contacted Global Rescue to request an urgent care consultation through TotalCare.
After reviewing their symptoms with Global Rescue staff, Cecile and Steven were both connected to doctors from Elite Medical Group (EMG) for two separate video consults.
EMG doctors informed the Thomas’ that they were suffering from airplane ear, a common condition that can occur following an airplane flight. According to Harvard Health “barotrauma,” as it’s also called, is the most common medical problem reported by air travelers.
Significant changes in air pressure can cause the narrow tube inside the ear (called the Eustachian tube) to become blocked, causing a variety of symptoms. As air becomes trapped, ears can feel clogged and muffled.
The decrease in altitude combined with poor in-flight weather conditions likely caused a blockage for Cecile and Steven; this condition then created a buildup of moisture that led to an infection.
EMG doctors recommended antibiotics and nasal spray as airplane ear treatment, also suggesting a cough syrup for an accompanying cough Steven had developed.
“We were in a remote area in the Gulf of Mexico,” Cecile said. “Our doctor did an excellent job describing what I should do.”
Airplane ear was especially concerning for Cecile, who already uses a hearing aid in one ear due to more than 40 percent hearing loss.
“I can’t imagine if we hadn’t used TotalCare how we would have felt,” Cecile said. “That would have been pretty bad.”
Airplane ear can last anywhere from hours to weeks or months, depending on severity. Feeling confident in their experience, the couple was able to enjoy the remainder of their vacation.
Upon returning home, Cecile and Steven visited an ear, nose and throat specialist who confirmed the airplane ear diagnosis.
*Global Rescue LLC provides technical and administrative services to Elite Medical Group, P.C. (“Elite Medical”), a professional corporation owned by licensed physicians that employs or contracts with physicians licensed to practice medicine where medical services are provided. Global Rescue LLC does not provide medical care. Services may be subject to restrictions based on the laws and regulations where you are located. TotalCare and the TotalCare logo are service marks of Global Rescue LLC. All Rights Reserved. It is not guaranteed that a prescription will be written, nor will any DEA controlled substances, non-therapeutic drugs and certain other drugs which may be harmful because of their potential for abuse, as a result of a TotalCare consultation. Elite Medical physicians reserve the right to deny care for potential or actual misuse of services. Prescriptions, lab work and imaging not permitted outside the United States.
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