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Ear Pain While Flying on Airplane – How to Minimize

Does your ears pop when you’re flying on an airplane? one third of all passengers will experience this ear pain at least once.

So, Why do your ears pop in airplanes?

Rapid changes in air pressure inside the aircraft cause the air pocket inside the ear to expand during takeoff and contract during descent, stretching the eardrum. To equalize pressure, air must enter or escape through the Eustachian tube.

Some people experience ear discomfort, pain, temporary hearing loss. This condition is called aerotitus and one third of all passengers will experience this ear pain at least once.

The air pocket inside the middle ear expand during takeoff and landing and this stretches the eardrum. Air must enter and escape through the Eustachian tube in the ear to normalize the ear drum. The Eustachian tube sometimes has difficulty keeping up with the rapid changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing.

What You Can Do

  • Try Swallowing – Swallowing forces the eustachian tube to open and forces your ears to pop.
  • Chew gum.
  • Give your baby a pacifier or bottle.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Mohan Seripalli August 19, 2008, 12:24 pm

    I have observed that the ear pain occurs mostly during landing of the plane.
    Let me share my experience of my trip to India with my 6 year old daughter.
    While going from Newark, NJ to Hyderabad, India our plane landed 3 times (Paris, Mumbai and Hyderabad) and my daughter was weeping with ear pain during every landing.
    So we visited a Pediatrician (children’s doctor) in India and he suggested using nasal (saline) drops in her nose so that pressure from the ear gets away through the nose. Sounds strange, right? In fact this suggestion actually worked during our return trip from Hyderabad to Newark, NJ.

    Don’t forget about ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat), they all are connected to each other.
    In spite of my 6 year old daughter sleeping during the flight journey, I woke her up during flight landing and put the saline drops in her nose. After that I didn’t hear any more complaints about her ear pain.
    Let’s say you forget packing saline drops because of your busy schedule, it is easy to make some. Ask the flight attendant for salt and add bottled water, you got saline drops.

    I don’t think this is a universal solution for ear pain during flight landing but it sure did work for my 6 year daughter and I am sure that will work for others too.

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