What is the best way to make my ears pop when landing on a plane? The hold-your-nose-and-pitch method is very painful; are there any other methods to pop ears?
While a full yawn is best, simulating the movement your jaw makes in a yawn is enough to pop your ears (and often simulating a yawn makes a real one happen anyway)
If you have a cold, or if you let the pressure build up a lot it can be difficult to get the eustachian tubes to open, so in those instances I hold my nose, close my mouth and gently try and blow.
This is one you want to try gently, as blowing too hard could actually damage your ear drums, so practice doing it with relaxed cheeks (almost as if you were playing a trumpet.) You can also just try one eardrum at a time, which can make this easier and safer.
Well personally, I find a yawn is by far the easiest and least painful way of inducing the so-called 'pop'.
For prevention, I suggest chewing imaginary gum. Just do exactly what you would do if you had remembered to put gum in your mouth as descent started.
Once I'm in pain (eg I wake up from it, which has happened), I do the Valsava - pinch your nose shut and do just what you'd do to blow your nose. It's up to you how hard you "blow" - start gentle and work up if it's not working. You can feel the pressure equalize and the pain stops.
If you'd rather yawn, it might help to know it's a very contagious word. Most people will scratch themselves if someone else does, or if someone says the word itchy, or just from reading the word itchy (my doctor told me they were actually trained how to ask someone "does it itch?" without scratching themselves.) Yawn is a little less contagious so just reading it might not do the trick, but saying it aloud should work. Failing that, fake a yawn to infect someone near you - their real yawn should trigger one for you.
Update: today I am flying with perhaps the worst cold I have ever had. It is certainly the worst I have flown with. I needed to break out the big guns when it came to clearing one if my ears. As a result I can add two more techniques to this answer. First, especially if you have a cold, full-on blow your nose. This helped a lot. Second, massage the area under your ear (the end of your jaw) with the opposite hand. Move your ear up and down on your head. Combine this with chewing that imaginary gum and swallowing (I had a bottle of water with me) and the ear will clear eventually. Don't give up, keep working at it.
I have had ear difficulties since I was a baby, and was inflicted with many earaches as a youngster.
My ears feel pressure very easily. If I do not aggressively pop my ears during a plane ride, I will have an earache by the second flight of the day.
Here my ear-popping mechanisms, with the easiest-to-do-without-practice listed first:
Earaches are awful. Some of the worst pain I've experienced in my life was caused by ear pressure.
Whatever you do, don't do nothing. Don't wait until the pain wakes you up to start relieving the pressure.
Start using any of these techniques (they all do work) as soon as you feel any pressure in your ears, at any time during the flight.
It's a lot easier to keep your head (ears?) above water if you can stop the pressure from escalating.
Earplugs. There are many brands, they're cheap and after you've put them in you don't need to worry about doing any facial contortions since they help to automatically relieve pressure. Also obviously cuts back on aircraft engine noise and the sound of yet another excitable/crying child.
This ear pain you experience when landing is usually related to the increase of cabin pressure as the altitude of the plane decreases. This inevitably causes an increase of the pressure of the air trapped inside the inner ear and sinuses, which cause the squeezing, pushing, piercing sensation we all know. Various techniques exist allowing you to equalise the pressure in the inner ear and sinuses.
As a general rule of thumb, you should begin equalising pressure as soon as the first signs of pressure-related discomfort in the inner ear and sinuses arise. Don't wait for the pain level to rise, as this corresponds to an increase in pressure which will need a harder push to equalise. Pushing too hard can cause a plethora of accidents which you most probably want to avoid.
Yawning or Swallowing
First thing you should try is yawning or swallowing. Both movements contribute to a slight opening of the Eustachian tube, which can help in releasing pressure in the inner-ear and sinuses.
If the pressure build up is too high for yawning and swallowing to be ineffective, several other techniques have been proven to be effective. The most common manoeuvre to compensate and equalise pressure in the inner ear and sinuses is the Valsalva manoeuvre (pinch your nose, close your mouth and blow). Whilst very effective, if performed incorrectly this manoeuvre comes with a set of possible serious consequences, including the increase of intraocular pressure which can lead to retinal detachment, as well as damage in the inner ear due to over-pressurisation, and various other cardiac-related problems.
Marcante-Odaglia or Frenzel Manoeuvre
One valid, and safer, alternative to Valsalva is the Frenzel Manoeuvre. This is performed as follows:
The Frenzel manoeuvre is safer than Valsalva because it does not cause the same large increase of intraocular pressure. Moreover, this manoeuvre does not inhibit the venous return to the heart, which is the main cause of the cardiac problems related to the Valsalva manoeuvre.
The content of this answer was largely borrowed from this other answer of mine.
protected by Mark Mayo Jan 29 '13 at 17:31
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