Travelling by plane is very relaxing for some people, but can be a terrible nightmare for those who suffer from blocked ears.
During take-off and landing, air pressure in the airplane cabin changes rapidly and can disrupt the pressure balance between the outer and middle ear. What is more, if you have flu, sinusitis, a cold or sore throat, equalising the pressure becomes even more difficult.
But here are seven tips that can help you out:
Chew gum or suck on a sweet to open the Eustachian tubes and equalise air pressure.
Yawn and swallow several times during take-off and landing.
Pinch your nose with two fingers and blow gently keeping your mouth closed; try not to blow your nose too hard, as this could damage your eardrum.
Drink some water to avoid dehydration and to prevent your nasal passages and throat from drying out.
Don’t sleep during take-off and landing. By staying awake during ascent and descent, you will have time to adjust to pressure changes that can cause significant damage.
Avoid alcohol or caffeine while flying because you can dehydrate and increase the risk of ruptured capillaries.
If you suffer from nasal congestion (cold), sinusitis or otitis, you can use a nasal or oral decongestant 30 minutes before taking off and landing, so as to reduce congestion and cause the Eustachian tube to open up again.
However, if ear pain or discomfort persists for more than a couple of days, I recommend that you see an ENT specialist to make sure you don’t suffer from otitis.