4 Tips for Helping “Airplane Ear” Pain

published on August 1, 2013 by

When you fly to your timeshare vacation, you are choosing a mode of travel that is not only fast and convenient, but can be enjoyable as well.

However, many of you might experience ear pain that is caused by a rapid change in the cabin pressure during take-offs and landings.

The scientific term for this condition is barotitis media or ear barotrauma, or, as many passengers simply call it, “airplane ear.”

The cause is the change in air pressure between the inner ear and the outer cabin air as altitudes are rapidly traversed. The built up pressure results in a swelling of the Eustachian Tubes, often accompanied by the eardrum either bulging outward or retracting inward.

The remedy is to attempt to equalize the pressure against the eardrum. Try these 4 tips:

1. Yawning and Swallowing: This simple action opens the Eustachian tube, allowing a small amount of air in, thus equalizing the pressure. You can facilitate swallowing by sucking on a piece of hard candy, or chewing gum.

2. Frenzel Technique: The Frenzel technique is similar. Place the tip of your tongue against the back of your front teeth, breath in, pinch your nose, and swallow while keeping your mouth closed. This process allows you to put more action behind the swallow.

3. Valsava Maneuver: This technique is more assertive than either of the first two swallowing procedures. You are accomplishing the same thing – equalizing the pressure in the Eustachian tubes – but by actually forcing the air from your nose into the tubes.

Inhale, pinch your nose closed, and gently blow. You will feel your ears “pop,” indicating that the pressure in the Eustachian tubes has equalized.

Be sure, however, that you blow very gently. Blowing hard with force could damage the Eustachian tubes.

4. Saline Nasal Sprays: An easy solution to the discomfort of airplane ear is a nasal mist spray, which offers fast results for blocked ear and sinus canals. Choose an all-natural saline mist to help clear the ear and sinus passages, which in turn helps to equalize the air pressure in the Eustachian tubes.

Many come in a convenient, travel sized bottle, less than 3 oz, so are TSA compliant by fitting easily into the quart-sized zip bag required to pass through security.

Ear Pain Relief for Babies, Too.
Have you ever noticed how tough air travel is on baby’s ears? That’s because the Eustachian tubes in infants are shorter, narrower, and sit at a flatter angle, making it even more difficult to equalize pressure.

Again, it’s swallowing that will help. Before and during take-off and landing, give the baby a bottle of water or juice to drink. The sucking and swallowing motions will help keep the Eustachian tubes open.

A pacifier will also work as long as the baby actually sucks and swallows with it.

An all-natural nasal mist spray for kids is another answer. The all-natural solution is safer for babies and young children than traditional decongestants and antihistamines.

Our guest author, Matthew Lutin, is creator and founder of Pressureze®, an all-natural, preservative-free nasal mist product that quickly and safely clears blocked ears and sinuses. It is used by the U.S. Navy Seals and professional athletes, people who spend time in the great outdoors, and frequent fliers.