Quiz – Air Time

Flying isn’t what it used to be. Though it’s still the fastest way to travel far distances, the long lines, crowded cabins, and extra airline fees have made it a chore.  And there have always been some common physical symptoms—rarely serious, but still noticeable—of flying. See whether or not the facts in our quiz keep you grounded:

1. The sensation of your ears popping during air travel comes from the Eustachian tube, which is designed to __________.

A. Ventilate the ear
B. Drain excess fluid
C. Dampen sudden, loud sounds
D. All of the above


2. Because small children have narrower Eustachian tubes than adults, changes in air pressure can be more discomforting and even painful for them.

A. True
B. False


3. To relieve pain in your ears during air travel, try _____.

A. Swallowing often
B. Chewing gum
C. Drinking fluids
D. Pinching your nostrils closed/breathing through your mouth
E. All of the above

4. Circadian dysrhythmia, also known as jet lag, rarely causes severe problems but can disturb a person’s normal physical and mental state.

A. True
B. False

5. A general rule of thumb for jet lag is that it takes _____ to recover for each time zone crossed during the trip.

A. 2 hours
B. 8-12 hours
C. 1-1.5 days
D. Returning to the original time zone

6. To avoid motion sickness, it is best to fly on an empty stomach.

A. True
B. False



1. D. All of the above. The Eustachian tube is closed at rest. A muscle opens the tube if the air pressure inside the ear is unequal to the pressure outside the ear, creating a popping sensation.

2. A. True. Yawning or swallowing can help pop the ears. Parents can also use a bottle or pacifier in very young children to help facilitate popping. They are also encouraged to keep their baby awake as the plane descends.

3. E. All of the above. If you are suffering from a cold or swollen sinuses, taking a decongestant or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine before the flight may help.

4. A. True. A person with jet lag may experience fatigue, impaired memory, headaches, and stomach cramps. Symptoms are sometimes worse when flying west-to-east.

5. C. 1-1.5 days. If possible, it is recommended to do low-key activities for the first day or two after a long trip.

6. B. False. Eating a light, healthy meal before (but not immediately before) a flight will help prevent nausea and motion sickness. Sleeping during a flight, if you are able, can also help.

Source: The Health Library

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