Come summer, it’s time for memorable vacations and travelling to long distance destinations to unwind over great fun-filled moments with family and friends. While travelling to our favourite holiday spots by air excites all of us, one thing that makes us feel annoying is to cope up with the ear pressure issues on board the flight.

Tips to beat that excruciating ear ache on flights

Many of us are no strangers to pain and pressure in the ears, especially when the air craft is descending. While it is a completely normal occurrence in few rare cases, passengers may suffer from hearing loss for next few hours even after alighting the flight.

So, what exactly causes this condition?

Prof. Dr. Rajaram, an ENT specialist and a consultant with Venkateswara Hospital explains the phenomenon behind this. “As the aircraft takes off to the higher altitudes the air pressure inside the cabin gradually decreases. The cabin crew try to maintain the pressure on par with the pressure at the ground level while cruising but the problem occurs while descending. As the aircraft descends the air pressure inside the ear becomes less compared to the air pressure outside. This in turn sucks the tympanic membrane inward flattening the Eustachian tube. This may cause pressure, pain, and popping, clicking, muffled sounds. One has to try equalising the pressure by introducing air back through Eustachian tube by following few simple methods.”

Tips to combat ear pressure and pain:

  1. Avoid travelling if you are suffering cold, sinusitis, allergies or long lasting respiratory issues. It is always advisable to postpone travelling by flight while suffering from these conditions.
  2. Keep Nasal Spray handy. Use it only if you are not able to bear the pain and pressure while descending.
  3. Try to blow your nose while keeping the mouth closed.
  4. Chewing, swallowing chocolates, sipping water also helps.
  5. Ask your doctor prescribe an anti-histamine that would work for you. Use it an hour before boarding the flight.
  6. Try Valsalva procedure, highly recommended by ENT doctors. Fill mouth with air, close it and pinch your nose shut. Gently force air out of ears until ears pop. Avoid it if you are suffering from cold.
  7. Keep yawning.
  8. If you are travelling with an infant, feed the baby with a bottle.
  9. Toddlers can chew on some hard candy and encourage them to keep swallowing.
  10. Hold babies vertically to ease out their ear pain.


Happy Travels!