How Can You Decrease the Pressure in Your Ears When Flying?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest TPG readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question Often When I Fly in Planes, I Experience a Lot of Pressure in My Ears. How Can I Help This? and was written by Attila Gyuris.
The following is not official medical advice. Contact a doctor if you have any questions regarding this article.
Ear pain problems due to cabin air pressurization during flight occur mostly during descents, almost never during climbs. During climbs, the air inside the ear can always escape out quite easily and thus equalize.
The difficulty is during descents. During descents, the air is trying to go back into the middle ear to equalize the pressure as you descend to higher air pressures (or the cabin pressure is pressurizing or is “descending”). And for some reason the air path into your middle ear is not clear. It could be due to a cold, a sinus infection, an ear drum blockage due to an infection, what have you, or simply, because of the way your ear structure is built. Some people seldom experience pain; others do all the time.
You can try the “Vasalva maneuver.” This means you pinch your nostrils shut, close your mouth hard, and gently blow air out until you hear a pop and the air pressure inside your ears is equalized. The pain due to pressure imbalance should immediately go away. Scuba divers do this maneuver all the time when diving down to higher pressures in the water.
The other method, more preventative in nature, is to chew gum or suck on a piece of candy before starting descent. If you don’t have any gum or candy, you can try to drink sips of water and swallow or, as a last resort, move your jaw around and try to make swallowing movements.
The idea here is that as you move your jaw and swallow while chewing or sucking on the candy, or sipping water or simply moving your jaw around, the ear canal occasionally gets straightened out a little and hopefully will open just enough to allow bits of air to sneak past the eardrum and equalize the air pressure inside the middle ear with the pressure outside the ears.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees