In-flight earache

When flying, you may experience an earache because the air pressure in the aircraft cabin changes rapidly during takeoff and landing. As the aircraft gains or decreases in altitude, the pressure in the ears must adjust so that the eardrum does not rupture. The body tries to equalize this pressure by opening the Eustachian tube, a thin canal that connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx.

If this balancing is not complete, there will be a feeling of pressure on the ears. This can manifest itself as unpleasant pressure or pain. You can usually get rid of this pain quickly with various pressure equalization methods.

Pressure Equalization Methods

To equalize the pressure during a flight, there are several methods:

  1. Chew: By chewing gum, candy or food, you can bring about the pressure equalization.
  2. Swallow: When you swallow, the Eustachian tube opens and the pressure in the ear can be equalized. You can consciously try to swallow or just have a drink.
  3. Yawn: When you yawn, the Eustachian tube also opens and the pressure can be equalized.
  4. Hold your nose shut and exhale gently: You can hold your nose shut with your fingers and then gently exhale through your nose. As a result, pressure is exerted on the ears and pressure equalization can take place.
  5. Nasal spray: If you have problems with nasal congestion, you can use nasal spray to open your nose and make it easier to equalize pressure.

It is important to carry out pressure equalization during takeoff and landing to avoid pain or damage to the ear.

Pressure equalization in babies and children

In the case of babies and young children , you should help them with this, for example by giving them a bottle or pacifier or letting them breastfeed. You can find out more about flying with babies in our related article.

For older children , the methods mentioned above, such as chewing, swallowing, yawning, holding the nose or a child’s nose spray, also help.

Categories: Travel


Manuel Metzler ist CEO der Digitalisierungsagentur DIGITAL LEADER und begeisterter Vielflieger.