How to Relieve Ear Pressure When Flying

Nov 29, 2021

Ear Pressure

Have you ever been flying and noticed a baby crying during takeoff or landing? It’s mostly likely due to discomfort caused by a change in ear pressure as the airplane ascends or descends. You’ve probably even experienced the phenomenon yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes ear pressure problems when flying, what signs to watch for, and how to prevent pain and discomfort.


What is Airplane Ear and What Causes It?

In the audiology world, we refer to this condition as ear barotrauma or barotitis media. According to the Mayo Clinic, however, it’s also commonly known as airplane ear. In simple terms, airplane ear is when the pressure inside your ear is out of equilibrium with the pressure outside your ear.


The most common cause of this condition is a rapid change in ear pressure, such as what you experience during takeoff or landing when flying. Your eustachian tubes, which regulate ear pressure, can’t react quickly enough. When you have other conditions that block the eustachian tubes, such as a cold, sinus infection, or ear infection, you’re at an increased risk of experiencing discomfort from a rapid change in ear pressure.


Signs and Symptoms of Airplane Ear

Here are some of the most common symptoms of airplane ear to watch out for:

  • Pain or discomfort in one or both ears
  • A feeling of fullness or ‘plugged’ ears
  • Muffled hearing or mild hearing loss
  • Tinnitus (a ringing in your ears, typically only in severe cases)


Usually, you can relieve ear pressure problems by yawning, swallowing, or chewing. Other times, however, symptoms become severe and you may need to schedule an appointment with your audiologist or other doctor.


7 Ways to Prevent Ear Pressure Problems When Flying

Rather than having to deal with the troublesome side effects of ear pressure changes, here’s how you can prevent them from happening in the first place:

  1. Yawn and swallow – When you do this during takeoff and landing, the muscles that open your eustachian tubes are engaged.
  2. Use the Valsalva maneuver – This is a fancy name for a simple procedure that can help relieve ear pressure problems by equalizing the pressure in your ears with that of the cabin. First, fill your mouth with air. Then, close your mouth and nose while simultaneously forcing air out gently.
  3. Stay awake – No, not for the whole trip – just for takeoff and landing! When you do, you’ll have a better opportunity to practice these tips for preventing ear pressure changes.
  4. Choose another form of transportation – If you have a cold, ear infection, or sinus congestion, flying may not be your best option. If possible, find another way to get to your desired destination.
  5. Use nasal spray – If you must fly while you have nasal congestion, try using an over-the-counter nasal spray within a half hour of takeoff or landing.
  6. Use a decongestant – As long as it’s okay with your doctor and not contraindicated due to another health condition, you can use a decongestant before or during your flight to relieve congestion.
  7. Wear filtered earplugs – Available for purchase at your local pharmacy, these earplugs can help equalize air pressure during takeoff and landing.


When in Doubt, Talk to Your Hearing Healthcare Professional

If you have concerns about your ear health before flying, don’t be afraid to talk to your audiologist or doctor prior to your flight. If you experience airplane ear while flying, and symptoms persist for more than a few days, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider right away.



Read the full article here.



How to Relieve Ear Pressure When Flying was last modified: November 29th, 2021 by Olivia

Your Audiologist in Scottsdale & Mesa

We promise to always take the time to listen and talk with you one-on-one, ensuring that we answer all your questions thoroughly.





Scottsdale: 8am to 6pm, Mon-Fri
Mesa: 8am to 5pm, Mon-Fri

We Accept Most Insurances.

Audiology Services


Is There a Link Between Osteoporosis and Hearing Loss?

Medical researchers have often studied possible connections between various health conditions such as osteoporosis and hearing loss. As studies have been completed, it has become increasingly obvious that hearing loss does not always occur on its own. Rather, it can...

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Hearing Loss?

There are some things in life that will go away if you ignore them. For example: Snow will eventually melt, whether you shovel it or not.A headache can disappear on its own, whether you take medicine or not.A virus can make you feel miserable for a while, but will...

Gift Ideas For Children With Hearing Loss

Children with hearing loss often face many challenges. Language delays, learning difficulties, and feelings of depression or inadequacy are just a few.   However, as any of the famous people who are deaf or hard of hearing can tell you, hearing loss doesn’t have...

9 Famous Celebrities Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

When you think of famous celebrities, do you picture people who have it all? Riches, fame, multi-million dollar mansions, homes on a tropical island, and the freedom to do or buy whatever they want. While many well-known people do enjoy these perks of being...

How to Safely Clean Your Baby’s Ears

As a new parent, there’s so much to learn about your baby! When and how to feed them, how to understand their cries, and how to clean your baby’s ears are just a few of the many things that come to mind.  While we aren’t your best source for everything else baby...

Want MORE hearing tips, news and information?

Check out more from our blog to stay up to date on hearing aid and hearing services industry tips, news and more!

Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing loss