Avoiding ear pain during your next flight

Chewing gum, eating ginger, or yawning over and over – we all use different tricks to try to avoid ear pain during a long airline flight. Here are a few Dr. Brad-recommended tricks to help your ears during your next plane trip.

Ear tricks for take off and landing

As the plane climbs and reaches higher altitudes, there is less and less pressure on the outside of you. As your eardrums start to expand out, this causes your Eustachian tube to get stuck, which can cause positive pressure to build up in your ear.

When your flight is taking off, try gently grabbing your ear and pulling on it in the form of a checkmark – down and swoosh it out. You might hear a little pop. That means that you just performed a minor adjustment on your ear and opened your Eustachian tube to relieve the pressure. Well done.

As the plane decends there's more pressure building on the outside of you. This causes a negative pressure—think of it like a vacuum effect—in your middle ear that pushes the eardrums inward. The best way to help your ears at this point is to try closing your mouth and nostrils while you lightly blow out. This will help force air through your Eustachian tube and into your middle ear, giving you the sensation that many refer to as “popping” or clearing your ears.

If your ear pain is still bothering you after a flight, you should seek help from a professional like Dr. Brad to evaluate what might be causing your ear pain.