by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
We just visited our ENT for my son’s biannual hearing test. My husband asked the doctor if he could do another cat scan. He told the doctor we wanted to make sure whether my son had LVAS or not because we want to fly. My doctor told us he has other patients with LVAS and most of the parents take their children on flights. So, to reassure us that it is perfectly fine for our son to fly, he told me I should join a support group and talk to other parents to see what their opinion is. Thus, I decided to join your Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS) list because the reality of not flying is starting to sink in.
Your doctor gave you good advice. Few doctors know much about LVAS, but there is a wealth of collective wisdom on the LVAS list.
Here are two rules of thumb.
1. If your child is not affected by rapid pressure changes—such as from driving up or down a mountain, or when a fast-moving high or low pressure weather system moves in, or diving down to 6 feet or so underwater, or blowing on a woodwind or brass musical instrument, then the chances of him having ear problems related to LVAS and flying are almost nil.
2. In order to know what will likely happen in the future, you have to look at your child’s past history. If none of the situations in rule 1 (above) apply, try a flight and see what happens. If he doesn’t have any problems, then you can likely fly to your heart’s content without any problems in the future.
A lot of kids with LVAS do indeed fly, and with no harmful side effects I might add.
We did an informal survey on our LVAS list some months ago. Nineteen people responded that they had flown with a child with LVAS. Of the 19 that have flown, only 2 experienced a hearing loss which may have been related to flying.
The first child lost her hearing 12 days after flying and experienced a permanent loss. The family was unable to identify another reason for her loss such as head trauma or a virus. However, this child had flown twice before with no apparent loss.
The second child was fine on the way to the destination, but suffered a loss on the way home after transferring planes (in a high altitude location—Denver—flying to a low altitude location—Seattle). She suffered a “vestibular attack” (i.e. eyes squeezed shut, wanting to lie prone, vomiting nonstop). An audiogram a week later indicated a drop of 15 dB. Prior to this trip her hearing was progressive in nature. This child had also flown prior to this incident with no apparent hearing loss.
As you can see, most kids with LVAS can fly with no hearing side effects, and even those that did experience side effects had flown before without any problems.
Thus, you do not need to unduly restrict your LVAS child from flying unless past history indicates it is not a wise choice.
If you would like to learn more about LVAS or join the LVAS on-line support group, go to https://www.hearinglosshelp.com/articles/lvas.htm.