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Ear Pain and Pressure on Airplanes

Several people suffer from ear pain when airplanes are climbing or descending. This is caused by fast changes in altitude and air pressure. It stresses the eardrum and other tissues in the middle of the ear and causes them to become unbalanced. This is called airplane ear, or barotrauma.

Some people experience slight pain, while others can undergo severe pain. Symptoms can be ringing in the ears, muffled hearing, slight hearing loss, or the feeling of stuffiness in the ear. Here are some simple methods one can follow to help reduce pain in the ears while flying on a plane.

  • Chew on gum
  • Suck on sweets, like hard candies or lollipops
  • Swallow or yawn
  • Inhale, pinch your nose, and gently exhale with your mouth closed (No air is blown out, but rather sent to the Eustachian tube)
  • Do not sleep while the plane is beginning the climb or descend
  • Take antihistamines (Proper dosage the day before and day of travel) or decongestants, like nasal spray

If these remedies do not prevent airplane ear, the pain normally does not last long. Painkillers, or fluid and mucus-reducing medication, can be taken to ease the pain. If the pain does not go away after a few days, you should see a doctor.

If you or someone you know suffers from airplane ear or has earaches, contact the Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat and Shea Hearing Aid Center. Call us today!

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