Stay comfortable on your future flights with these ear pain relief tips.
Traveling by plane to a new place or to see friends and family is exciting! What’s not as exciting is dealing with congested or painful ears while you’re trying to enjoy your flight.
Thankfully there are plenty of methods to ease this common problem, so you can get back to focusing on the fun times you have ahead. Follow our tips to be sure ear pain doesn’t get in the way of your travel adventure!
Here are five tips to ease ear pain while flying:
- Bring a pack of gum
- Try pressure-relieving earplugs
- Wear noise-canceling headphones
- Stay awake during takeoff and landing
- Ask your doctor about decongestants
Let’s dig into these airplane ear care tips!
Bring a pack of gum
Chewing gum is one of the best ways to help keep your Eustachian tubes (the part of your body that helps regulate air pressure in your inner ears) open, thanks to the motions of chewing and swallowing. (And it’s also nice to have minty-fresh breath on a flight!) Many people like to bring gum or chewy candies to have during takeoff and landing specifically, but you can also chew mid-flight if your ears are feeling a little off.
Try pressure-relieving earplugs
Technology has come a long way, even in the market of ear plugs! Do a web search for “airplane pressure relief earplugs,” and you’ll find a variety of products designed specifically for use on airplanes. Their unique design helps to regulate your ear pressure, relieve discomfort, reduce cabin noise, and keep you comfortable.
If you’d like to try airplane earplugs, insert them before the plane takes off. If you remove them during flight, be careful to remove them in a slow, twisting motion to gently break the seal they create. Re-insert the earplugs an hour before landing to get ahead of any pain or discomfort you may feel as the plane descends.
Wear noise-canceling headphones
If you already have a go-to pair of noise-canceling headphones, you know what a lifesaver they can be when traveling! They can be your line of defense against the noise of the plane engines, plus other loud, uncomfortable sounds. If you’re in the market for headphones but not sure what to look for, check out our article on the best headphones for your ears.
Stay awake during takeoff and landing
If you’re the type of traveler who tries to fall asleep on the plane as soon as they buckle in, you might want to try a new technique to help ease ear pain while flying. Being awake means you can actively try to swallow, yawn, drink water, or chew something to help equalize the air pressure inside your Eustachian tubes. If you are comfortable doing so, ask your seat buddy or a flight attendant to tap your shoulder before landing.
Takeoff and landing are also excellent times to try the “Valsalva maneuver,” where you pinch your nose shut, close your mouth, and gently exhale as if you’re trying to blow your nose. This method may help clear a clogged ear. Similarly, the “Toynbee maneuver” involves pinching your nose shut while swallowing.
Ask your doctor about decongestants
Ear pain on flights generally comes from pressure — whether it’s pressure in the eustachian tubes, sinus passageways, or your nose. Air can get trapped when the passageways are too narrow or clogged, causing pain. Ask your doctor or audiologist if you should take a decongestant before flying to help keep all your passageways clear and open. If you’re sick with a cold or flu, it’s best to avoid flying at all, as this makes it even harder for your body to relieve pressure.
Now that you’re all set with knowledge to ease ear pain while flying, it’s time to plan the rest of your trip! Check out our other tips on air travel with hearing loss.