How to Stop Ear Pressure when Flying

Many people face the problem of ear pressure while travelling in an aircraft. This pain increases when the plane descends, and can become unbearable as it is about to land. When it happens, rest assured that this is a natural phenomenon and there is nothing to worry about.

Generally referred to as the aeroplane ear, the feeling occurs due to the pressure differential between the middle ear and the air outside the ear.

The small space behind the eardrum is filled with air at normal pressure. This space is directly connected to the nose via a small tube called Eustachian tube. When the plane descends, the outside pressure increases gradually, forcing the eardrum inwards, and thus the pain. To get rid of this pain, the pressure inside the ear drums needs to rise quickly and the Eustachian tube needs to become active.

You may be wondering why some people get relief more quickly than others. The answer is simple and depends on the prompt or delayed opening of this nasal tube. Under normal circumstances, anybody with a nasal or ear infection should avoid travelling by air as it becomes extremely difficult to bear the pain. There are however still ways to overcome it.


  • 1

    Take sweets or chew a gum

    The Eustachian tube opens naturally upon chewing. For this very reason, air hostesses normally give passenger candies and chewing gums before the plane is about to land. The chewing actions opens up the tube and the air can easily go into the ear drum to equalize the pressure.

  • 2

    Try a simple breathing exercise

    Commonly known as the Valsalva manoeuvre, this breathing exercise goes a long way in curing the aeroplane ear. Inhale the air normally, close your mouth, and try to exhale while pinching your nose. By doing this, you ensure that air does not leave the body, and the only route for it is to go into the Eustachian tube. Keep on repeating the procedure after every few minutes.

  • 3

    Try Antihistamine

    This is a common medicine which controls the amount of mucus formed by the nose. Take recommended dosage on the day you are supposed to make the trip.

  • 4

    Decongestant nasal spray

    This spray dries up the mucus in the nasal cavity and helps in the opening of the Eustachian tube.

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