Why your ears pop on planes and how to ease the pressure

EAR discomfort goes hand in hand with air travel – as soon as you hit a certain altitude, the pressure kicks in.

But how much pain that cases and how easy it is to alleviate the pressure depends on the passenger – so why do you ears pop and how can you fix the problem?

When a plane ascends into the air or descends into its destination, the air pressure in the cabin changes rapidly with the altitude.

There’s a pocket of air inside your ears that is normally at the same pressure as the air outside, but if the air pressure around you changes, you feel the air pushing on your eardrum.

Your ear has a small tube (called the Eustachian tube) for equalising the air pressure between the inside and outside of the ear.

The tube is opened when you yawn or swallow, and the ‘pop’ you feel is the air equalising.

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During take-off, the pressure in the cabin will decrease rapidly – and your ears don’t like it.

It makes your eardrum bulge outwards and your hearing get worse – which all contributes to that plugged up feeling you get until you feel the pop.

One of the simplest, and most effective ways to unblock the ear is by yawning during take off and landing.

Meanwhile, Tiktok user Victoria, a flight attendant from San Francisco, suggests using snacks as a way to stop them popping.

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She told her 76k followers: "Chewing gum or sucking on candy or a cough drop does seem to help [during] taking off or landing."

Victoria said that medicines can help too if you want to help clear your sinuses.

She continued: "I always carry some kind of nose spray or cold or sinus medicine to keep with me.

"If I ever feel like I'm getting stuffy on a flight, I definitely always make sure to take it right before take off and 30 minutes or so before we land."

And if your ears are already blocked, how do you reduce the effects?

Close your mouth, pinch your nose, and blow gently. The air from your lungs will push on the tiny tubes and hopefully relieving pressure.

But try to avoid the temptation of blowing too hard – as this can be painful, and could damage your ear drums. Instead, blow gently and repeat.

Once you’ve landed, the ears should heal themselves eventually. Go see your doctor if symptoms persist for more than day.

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A sleep expert has also revealed the best ways to get some much-needed shut eye during a flight and tackle jet lag.

Meanwhile, a pilot has explained why passengers should never take their shoes off during a flight.

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