Tips and Tricks to Avoid Ear Pain During Flying

The aviation industry has revolutionized how we explore the world, but for some, the joy of flying can be tempered by the discomfort of "airplane ear" or ear pain. Recent studies suggest that up to 10% of adults and 22% of children experience varying ear pain while flying. Understanding the causes of this discomfort and adopting preventive measures can make your flying experience much more enjoyable.

Causes of Ear Pain While Flying

  • Changes in Air Pressure: One of the primary culprits behind airplane ears is the rapid change in air pressure during take-off and landing. As the plane ascends or descends, the pressure in the cabin fluctuates, affecting the Eustachian tubes that connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat.
  • Blockage of Eustachian Tubes: Problems arise when the Eustachian tubes are blocked, affecting ear pressure equalization. Conditions like congestion, allergies, or sinusitis can contribute to this blockage, leading to ear pain while flying.
  • Dehydration: Airplane cabins are known for low humidity levels, which can cause dehydration. Dry and irritated nasal passages can worsen ear pain, so staying hydrated throughout the flight is very important.
  • Ear Infections: Individuals with pre-existing ear infections may experience pain during flights due to pressure changes, so addressing any existing ear issues before flying is essential.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Ear Pain While Flying

  • Stay Hydrated: Hydration is critical to combating the dry air in the airplane cabin. Drink plenty of water before and during the flight to ensure your body is adequately hydrated.
  • Swallow and Yawn: Frequent swallowing and yawning help equalize the pressure in the ears. Consider chewing gum or sucking on candies to stimulate these actions during take-off and landing.
  • Earplugs: Invest in specialized custom earplugs designed for air travel. These can regulate pressure changes, minimizing discomfort and preventing excessive pressure on the eardrums.
  • Nasal Decongestants: Before the flight, consider using over-the-counter nasal decongestants. This can aid in equalizing ear pressure and reducing the likelihood of ear pain during flight.
  • Equalizing Techniques: Learn and practice equalizing techniques, such as the Valsalva maneuver. Pinch your nostrils shut and gently exhale through your nose to help open the eustachian tubes and equalize pressure.

Tips for Parents to Ease Discomfort in Younger Travelers:

  • Breastfeeding or Bottle-Feeding: For infants, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding during take-off and landing can prevent airplane ear pain. The sucking motion helps equalize ear pressure.
  • Comfort Items: Bring comfort items like pacifiers, favorite toys, or blankets to distract and soothe younger travelers. Familiar objects can provide a sense of security.
  • Encourage Swallowing: For older children, provide snacks or encourage swallowing during take-off and descent. This helps keep the eustachian tubes open and aids in equalizing ear pressure.

Seeking Professional Help with Hoffmann Audiology

Despite proactive measures, some individuals may still experience persistent ear pain or discomfort during and after flights. In such cases, seeking professional help is crucial. Hoffmann Audiology specializes in diagnosing and treating various ear-related issues, including airplane ear.

Importance of Professional Assistance

Persistent ear pain may indicate an underlying issue that requires professional attention. Hoffmann Audiology's experienced audiologist can conduct thorough hearing tests, offer personalized advice, and recommend appropriate interventions to address auditory concerns.

Experience Pain-Free Travelling with Hoffmann Audiology

Ensure a comfortable flight by understanding the causes of ear pain during air travel and taking proactive measures. Incorporate simple strategies like staying hydrated, using earplugs, and promoting swallowing to reduce the risk of airplane ear. Parents should attend to the unique needs of younger travelers. If ear pain persists, seek professional help from Hoffmann Audiology to prioritize auditory health. Fly comfortably, enjoy the journey, and enhance your travel experience. Contact us today or call 949-536-5180 for proper assistance with your ear health.



Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.

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