HealthCare Resources Blog

Interview with Dr. Javier Diaz Nuñez, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist

Since this is the time of year that so many folks are planning their return trip (or vacation) to Puerto Vallarta, we thought it would be a good idea to interview Dr. Javier Diaz-Nuñez, one of HealthCare Resources’ favorite physicians. He is an Otolaryngologist – but it is much easier to say he is an “ENT” (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.)

Pamela: Is there anything that one can do prior to boarding a plane for a flight, to “protect” their ears?

Dr. Javier Diaz-Nuñez, OtolaryngoloistDr. Diaz: If you have a history of ear problems with pressure changes, you should definitely do something preventative. The first thing is to make sure your nose is not “stuffed up.” If this is the case you may use a decongestant, such as Afrin, 1 day prior to the flight and then use it twice daily but not for more than three days. Be sure and read the instructions to make sure you have no contradictions. If the stuffy nose is caused from allergies, prescription antihistamines such as Zyrtec or Allegra are recommended to begin using at least 5 days prior to the flight along with a nasal spray of saline solution, which may be purchased over-the-counter.

Pamela: What is actually happening when a person feels their ears become “plugged” during a flight?

Dr. Diaz: This is called barotrauma or pressure trauma. There is a communication between Your inner ear and the posterior part of your nose called the Eustachian tube that equalizes the pressure between the inner ear and the outside. If your nose is blocked, this equalization is not possible and your ear will be subject to that increased pressure and believe me – it will hurt! There are more mild symptoms like ear popping or a sharp pain, which are usually transitory.

Pamela: What can a person do during the flight to prevent this?

Dr. Diaz: Usually chewing gum during the flight and the Valsalva Maneuver, (plugging your nose and trying to blow out your ear), sometimes helps but definitely pre-flight prevention is best. In case you land and 24 hours later your ears are still plugged, it is recommended to see an ENT, especially if there is intense pain. It is important to receive proper treatment, avoid improper treatment and self-medication. You do not want to have a ruined vacation!

Pamela: Is it dangerous for a person to fly if they have an ear infection, or already plugged ears?

Dr. Diaz: If there has been ear pain, it would be recommended to see your personal physician a couple of days before your flight.

Pamela: Thank you Dr. Diaz!

We are pleased to announce a new Healthcare Resources Puerto Vallarta clinic, being done in association with Dr. Diaz. This is our “Ear Clinic” scheduled for October 21, 2010 and held monthly throughout the season. Cost: $375 pesos. By appointment only. Dr. Diaz will do a thorough ear-check. Please note: This is not a hearing exam! For further information or to make your appointment, please contact

Dr. Diaz serves on the staffs of three major hospitals in Puerto Vallarta: Amerimed, CMQ and San Javier. He holds a medical degree from the University of Guadalajara and an advanced degree from the Instituto de Mexicano del Seguro Social.  For more information on Dr. Diaz-Nuñez, check out the Banderas News article about him.


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  1. Ruth said,

    RE: Flying with ear problems–In addition to a decongestant, we recommend “Earplanes”. They are little earplugs with a CeramX filter that you insert into your ears 30 minutes prior to beginning your descent. My husband was napping during one particular steep descent and had a slight cold. He experienced excruciating ear pain and despite numerous trips to doctors during and after our trip ( including lancing his ear drum!), he couldn’t hear out of one ear for several months afterward. We have since learned about Earplanes and he hasn’t had any problems since. They are available at most larger pharmacies in the US (Walgreens, Walmart, etc) and I have also seen them in a children’s version although they are harder to find. See:

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