Friday, September 30, 2011

Ears popping on an airplane

Here's a confession: I have a problem with changes in air pressure. I didn't know this until my first flight to New York when I was 16. I was told that chewing gum would help your ears pop but I had no idea that I would be one of the other people who felt ear-shattering pain on landing. Are you one of these people? If so, read on: I found out how to solve it!

So, on the way up in an airplane my ears pop a bit to adjust to the change in air pressure so I only notice the pain when I come down. It's really bad if we come down quickly instead of slowly to allow myself to adjust to the change in air pressure. I have tried everything from manually trying to pop my ears to trying to yawn. I have pressed on my head behind my ears to dull the pain and I have even tried pressing a warm facecloth to my ears. I must look awfully strange to other passengers on a plane.

Well, I had to deal with this. I fly at least twice a year so that is at least four flights per year for the past 10 years. It took that long before one of my co-workers (who also snorkels) told me of a diving trick for adjusting to pressure in the water: plug your nose with your fingers and blow slightly to pop your ears as you go down. Not once, but many times, say every 2 minutes until you are at the bottom. Decompress like this all the way to the top as well.

BRILLIANT! So, on the way down, I am the passenger holding my nose and blowing (quietly) to pop my ears every few minutes as we come down. Don't mind me, that is if you notice that I do this. I am no longer in any pain when I fly! It sounds strange but it really does work.

So, are you one of these people? If so, here is a trick that really does work. Who cares if you look strange doing it. Actually, after a few years, I've gotten pretty discrete about it. The person next to me doesn't even know what I am doing.


  1. That actually doesn't work for me, but I heard a flight attendant tell the mother of a toddler to give him a juice box or something as the plane goes down because swallowing helps clear the ears so I am the crazy person sitting on the plane swallowing saliva the entire decent.

    I also find mentos more helpful than gum, they really activate those salvatory glands so you feel the need to swallow more, once again helping clear your ears. Just thought I'd let you know in case your nose plugging trick ever fails you! :)

  2. Awesome!! Well, I had tried blowing my nose, yawning and taking sinus or allergy medication to "open my sinuses". Nothing worked until that decompression trick.