Airplane Ear

The summer is so close you can almost taste it. With that comes vacations; hopefully to a far-off land full of mystery. Even if you are only going a few states away, many of us will find ourselves at LAX for one reason or another during this time of year.

To prepare for your trip you will buy the perfect suitcase, plan your itinerary to the minute and buy enough sunblock to keep your skin healthy long after the vacation is just a distant memory. But what about protecting your ears? Are you prepared for airplane ear?

What is Airplane Ear?

Airplane Ear | Human Ear Diagram | House Providence Hearing Health Centers

Airplane ear, technically referred to as barotitis media, is the sensation of ear pain, a stuffed up ear and hearing loss many people experience while flying. It occurs when there is a change in the air pressure within your inner ear; this usually occurs during either takeoff or landing. The change within the ear can prevent the eardrum from properly vibrating.

Your ear is connected to a small opening at the top of your throat by the Eustachian tube. It is what helps you regular pressure. Since airplanes change pressure often and without warning, your Eustachian tube often cannot respond quickly enough.

How Do You Prevent Airplane Ear?

There are a number of ways your Los Angeles audiologist recommends preventing airplane ear.

Yawning and swallowing during takeoff and landing will help to activate the muscles that open the Eustachian tube. Sucking on a mint or chewing gum can help activate these muscles as well.

The valsalva maneuver can help equalize the pressure within your ears and the airplane cabin. This simple exercise is done by blowing your nose while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed. You can repeat this several times.

While easier said than done, staying awake during takeoff and landing is crucial. This helps ensure you are able to perform these tips when needed.

There is always a chance you will follow these tips and sill develop airplane ear. Fear not! The symptoms of airplane ear will typically go away on their own after the plane lands.

If the symptoms do not resolve on their own within a few hours or if you experience severe ear pain, tinnitus or vertigo, you should seek medical help.

To learn more about preventing airplane ear symptoms or to schedule an appointment, contact your Los Angeles audiologist today.

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