How to Relieve Ear Pain While Flying?

Why does it happen? What can you do about it?

Experiencing ear pain while flying unfortunately is very common in both adults and children. It can be especially distressing for children. It is usually caused by changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing.

This discomfort, sometimes referred to as “airplane ear,” can be particularly worse for those with sensitive ears or existing ear conditions. Here are some effective ways to relieve ear pain while flying.

Ear Wax Removal

If you (or your child) require regular ear wax removal, make sure you come to Walker Hearing Clinic at least one week before your flight for an ear wax check and removal if necessary. Flying with ears that are full of wax is painful because a build-up of wax aids in additional pressure within the ear canal, and consequently in the eustachian tube, which causes pain & discomfort.

Give your baby something to suck during take off and landing

Offering a baby something to suck on will help relieve the baby’s ear discomfort. You can offer the baby a breast, bottle or pacifier to suck on during take-off and the start of the landing process. It might help to try to time feedings so that your baby is hungry during these times. If your baby or young child has had issues or infections with her ears before a scheduled holiday pop in to us in Walker Hearing Clinic for advice if you are worried.

Yawning and Swallowing

Yawning and swallowing are simple yet effective methods to help to equalize the pressure in your ears. These actions open the Eustachian tubes, allowing air to flow in and out of the middle ear, balancing the pressure. Drinking water, sucking on a hard sweet (adults only!), or chewing gum (adults only!) can encourage swallowing and help alleviate discomfort.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during your flight can help maintain proper fluid balance in your body, including your ears. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can lead to dehydration and exacerbate ear discomfort.

Pre-flight Preparation

If you are prone to ear pain when flying, consider taking a decongestant or using a nasal spray an hour before takeoff and landing. These medications can help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and Eustachian tubes, making it easier to equalize pressure. Always consult with your doctor before using any medication.

Stay Awake During Takeoff and Landing

Try to stay awake during takeoff and landing, as these are the times when pressure changes are most significant. Being alert allows you to actively swallow or yawn, to manage the pressure changes effectively.

At Walker Hearing Clinic, we’re dedicated to helping you protect your ear health. For a more bespoke solution or to address any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. 

Safe travels!


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