That uncomfortable feeling inside the ear canal, during and after a flight, can cause extreme discomfort. It feels like your ears are blocked. There could also be a dull earache, which can intensify, with passing time. 


Many people complain of this uneasiness in the ears when they are airborne and some continue to suffer, long after they have landed. Ear block and ear pressure accompanied by excruciating pain are some of the side-effects that flying can cause. It can happen to anyone, irrespective of where they are seated on an aircraft.

Most often the uneasy discomfort in the ears, during a flight, is not a serious problem. It is no doubt uncomfortable, most times, but it can turn nasty for some. The air pressure, responsible for the blocked ears, can, in rare cases, cause severe pain that requires medical intervention. So, in your best interest, it is always nice to be prepared and take the right precautionary measures, before boarding the flight, while flying and after you have landed.

Why do ears get blocked or ache during a flight?

Ever wondered what that weird feeling inside your ears is, each time you fly? Blocked ears are caused by low air pressure or altitude pressure. It is simple science; increase in altitude causes a drop in atmospheric pressure. At higher altitudes, the air gets thinner or less dense because of lower pressure. It is the same phenomenon that mountain climbers suffer from. People moving to higher altitudes are advised to get acclimatized before ascending further.

In lower altitudes, the air pressure is the same all around – within the ears and outside. Therefore, a perfect balance is maintained. Also, a gradual increase in altitude does not create any problems for the human body, as the body has enough time to adjust. It is the sudden and rapid change in altitude that can cause all sorts of problems, as it happens on a flight. The air pressure outside and that present inside the ear canal does not get enough time to balance, causing the ears to become blocked.

Aircraft take off and begin climbing rather quickly, and the air pressure begins to fall, quickly, at an equally fast pace. However, the air pressure within the ear does not alter at the same pace. It remains stable and quickly exceeds the pressure present outside. When this happens, the eardrums start to expand and bulge outwards, the way a cake rises when it is in the oven, creating that feeling of an ear block.

On the other hand, when the aircraft begins to descend, to land, the opposite happens. The air pressure outside becomes more than the air pressure inside the ear, causing the eardrums to be sucked inward. 

Read this blog about how to overcome flight anxiety

Either way, whether an aircraft is ascending or descending, the eardrums are impacted. The only way to prevent ear pain and blocked ears during a flight is to insert copious volumes of air into the ear through the Eustachian tube, which is located behind the eardrums. The more air you introduce into your ears, the better you will feel.

What are the best ways to introduce air into the ears?     

 Suck on a candy or chew gum

There was a time when flight attendants offered hard candy, to passengers, before the flight took off. And there was a purpose for that. Sucking on candy alleviates the uneasiness in the ears. Chewing gum has the same effect. This happens due to the involuntary action of swallowing that occurs when the gum is chewed or candy sucked. Swallowing actually equalizes the air pressure. Keep some hard candy or chewing gum with you, the next time you fly.

If you are traveling with young children, give them lollipops to suck or get them to drink water or juice through a straw.

 Infants onboard flights, often bawl throughout the journey, and it is probably because they cannot handle the change in air pressure and the discomfort that the blocked ears cause. Give an infant a pacifier, as the sucking will increase the swallowing, which will ease their discomfort. Alternatively, ask your baby’s pediatrician if they could prescribe pain-alleviating eardrops that can be used during the flight.

Try Swallowing

Not having candy or gum with you, should not be a problem. You can repeatedly do the swallowing action, which will introduce air into your ears and give you almost instant relief.

The swallowing action pushes air from the nasal cavity into the ear, via the Eustachian tube. This action creates that typical popping or clicking sound that you hear, as the air gets incorporated into the inner ears. Membranes inside the ears soak up this air, and this helps in equalizing air pressure and prevents the blocking and the pain.

The Eustachian tube safeguards the ears, as it continually replaces the air in the ears. During a flight, you need to make the Eustachian tubes work more intensely, so they can supply more air into the inner ears.

Try Yawning

Open your mouth wide, breathe in air and imitate a yawn. This too activates the Eustachian tube and more air gets pushed into the ears. Otherwise, just open and shut your mouth repeatedly, until you feel the block clear.

Practice the Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva manoeuvre will make your ears pop and clear blocked ears. Fill your mouth with air and press your lips together arresting the air within the mouth. Next, use your thumb and forefinger and pinch your nostrils shut. Slowly push the air in your mouth towards your ears, so it builds pressure and you feel your ears pop.

Toynbee Maneuver

Another exercise that promises relief involves swallowing, while the mouth and nose are shut. Repeat several times until you feel your ears pop. Do not try the Valsalva manoeuvre or the Toynbee manoeuvre if you have a cold. It could create further complications.

Earplugs to the rescue

The easiest way to deal with ear block is to use earplugs. Airlines give it as part of the travel kit if you travel first class or business class. But they can also be ordered online.

 Protect your ears when you fly. Air pressure can damage the ears, and cause loss of hearing. Take necessary precautions to lessen blocked ears and other related symptoms. 

Now you got the tips and tricks to avoid ear blocking during a flight. If you are looking for some exclusive flight deals to India from US contact Taj Travel, one of the best Indian travel agency in USA. They have some amazing offers to India.


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