Pretty much everyone who has flown in an airplane has experienced the pressure build-up in their ears, especially during take-off and landing. While this is just a temporary effect, it can be incredibly annoying, especially for young children who don’t understand why this is happening. For a lot of people it can also be quite a painful experience.
Ear pain during flights can be reduced or even prevented, and understanding that it is the change in cabin air pressure causing your ear pain can take away some of the alarm caused when experiencing it for the first time.
Pain will develop in your ears because the rapid change in air pressure in the cabin is too swift for your ears to adjust to quickly enough. Cabins are pressurized in a similar way to how you blow up a balloon. As the plane rises through different altitudes the cabin pressure has to change or else people would not be able to breath normally. Just as mountaineers need more oxygen to enable them to climb higher up the mountain, the air is thinner at higher altitudes so the pressure and air quality has to be maintained within plane cabins to keep levels as normal as possible.
There are specially designed earplugs available on the market and can help to equalize the pressure in your ears. They contain filters which slow down the air flow in and out of your ears. You can purchase these ear plugs easily either through your local pharmacy, or online.
Yawning often helps to reduce the pressure build-up in your ears during take-off and landing, and the process of yawning opens up your jaw and ears to release pressure and relieve the pain. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy is a popular method to reduce pressure build up and cut down on pain, or taking small regular sips of water from a drink bottle can also help.
People who suffer badly with their sinuses will find flying particularly painful, so it would be wise to take a decongestant a few hours before the flight. Taking a decongestant will help to keep your nasal passage unblocked, reducing the chances of pressure building up and causing pain. If you are just getting over a respiratory illness, then it may make your travel more comfortable by taking a decongestant before traveling for the same reason as above. But remember; only take medication as prescribed by your doctor.
Sitting up straight with a good posture during the flight can help reduce congestion in your sinuses, and can lessen any ear pain experienced. Also, those who like to sleep during their flight would be advised to avoid sleep while the plane is in the middle of ascent or decent.