No matter how much you pay for your seat, how much is your leg room or whether you’re flying first class or not, the one and only thing that many air travelers have in common is ear pain. While most ear discomfort on a flight travel is nothing more than an annoyance, what happens if it becomes more serious? Ear pain and pressure can lead to severe pain and in rare cases, hearing loss. So it’s wise to take precautions before, during and also after your flight.
Causes of Ear Pain on Flight Travel
The joy of flying is often accompanied with ear discomfort. Popularly called the ‘airplane ear’, it’s felt as prickling of the ears with slight pain. It usually happens during landing; precisely, after the pilot announces that the airplane has begun its descent. As the plane starts to land, the changes in air pressure pushes your eardrums in resulting in pain. Most of the times, you feel that your ears are blocked. While the ear tubes try to adapt to the change in atmospheric pressure, this odd sensation in the ears might become more painful for a few travelers.
Quick Remedies for Relief from Earn Pain
Simply waiting for that ear discomfort to fade out will certainly not work wonders. So, here are some safe and natural methods that will quickly give you a sigh of relief.
- Chew Candies
It’s the sweetest remedy that really works! Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, pick some candies offered by the cabin crew before takeoff and landing. Chewing and sucking candies enables continuous movement of the jaws. It allows the air pressure in your ear to balance out by opening the Eustachian tubes.
- The Valsalva Maneuver
This breathing technique may sound complicated, but it’s much simple and easy to do! Take a deep breath first; then close your mouth and pinch your nose. While the mouth is closed, try to blow air gently through the nostrils till you hear a popping sound. The maneuver equalizes the air pressure in your ears. However, if you have severe cold or you’re prone to allergies, avoid the Valsalva as it may lead to severe ear infection.
- The Toynbee Maneuver
Another ear-popping method to relieve ear pain! Much alike the Valsalva, it is an effective ear-clearing technique that you can do right in your seat. The Toynbee technique involves pinching your nose gently, sipping on some water and swallowing it hard simultaneously. For better results, repeat both the maneuvers back to back till your ears are clear.
Yawning needs no rocket science. Even if you’re not sleepy try to yawn as much as you can! The wide stretching of the mouth makes the muscles active causing opening and closing of the Eustachian tubes. This balances the air pressure outside. Repeat every few minutes until your ears pop.
- Pop your ears
You must have tried this child’s play, years back. Time to regain! Pinch your nose closing it with your fingers and then blow through your nose until you feel your ears ‘pop’. Popping ears are effective in opening the ear tubes and regulating the air pressure in the ears.
- Nasal Spray and Decongestant
Another quick relief is to use nasal spray, just an hour prior to landing and only as-needed. It will offset any swelling that might arise in the nose, hindering the air flow in the Eustachian tubes. Do not overuse nasal sprays as this may cause more congestion. Though decongestant is not a complete cure, it’s certainly an immediate relief before landing.
Tips to Prevent Ear Pain
As the ancient saying relates, prevention is better than cure! Below given are some expert tips that you can follow to avoid that painful episode of plugged ears.
- Wake up an hour before landing
This will give ample time to your ears to adjust to the change in air pressure while landing.
- Opt for Ear Plugs
Often called ear planes, these soft silicone earplugs are very helpful to regulate the air pressure and reduce the chances of pain caused by Eustachian tube dysfunction. Insert in your ears during takeoff and landings.
- Suck on a boiled sweet
If you’re travelling with kids, you can give them some boiled sweets before landing. It actually works. Chewing and swallowing enables the air to flow up the Eustachian tube.
- Make sure you’re well enough to fly
If you have any ear, nose or sinus infection, avoid flying. The swelling can cause bleeding, pain or a perforated ear drum. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about decongestants to help reduce the swelling in your ears. Also check with your Physician before flying if you’ve recently had any type of ear surgery.