I've travelled by plane many times, and I often experience strong pain in my ears when landing. It is caused by the rising cabin pressure, which creates a force on the eardrum. Apparently, my inner ear does not let any air in to compensate the pressure.

What can I do to prevent or mitigate this pain (and potential injuries)? Can I prepare myself, or do something during or after the flight?

  • Or travel.stackexchange.com/questions/5193/…
    – mts
    May 27, 2016 at 15:34
  • @DavidRicherby, indeed. Thanks. I flagged it as a duplicate. (Strange I didn't find it when I searched)
    – Turion
    May 27, 2016 at 15:35
  • @mts, I think not, I'm interested in prophylaxis as well.
    – Turion
    May 27, 2016 at 15:37
  • 1
    FYI, the inner ear is not implicated in this problem; it is the Eustachian tube, which links the middle ear to the throat, and equalizes the pressure on either side of the ear drum (or doesn't, if it's not working effectively).
    – phoog
    May 27, 2016 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


This is a common problem, especially if you have a flu and your nose is clogged. What usually does the trick for me is:

  • yawning. luckily flights make me tired in some way
  • gulping. chewing gum and a bottle of water will be helpful.

A quick google for "ear pressure relief" adds to the list:

  • "Inhale, and then gently exhale while holding the nostrils closed and the mouth shut"
  • "Suck on candy" [source]

Wikihow has a similar list on tricks that includes recommendations on medicine. Besides what has already been said they recommend:

  • Taking antihistamines before the flight
  • special filtered earplugs available in pharmacies and airport stores

Also stay awake during the flight so you don't miss the initial part of the descent sleeping which is usually hardly noticed but makes for a good part of pressure difference to build up which then takes time to compensate (we're talking days here).

In a discussion to a somewhat related question it was mentioned that there are business jets which offer sea-level altitude pressure if you are willing and able to splurge on that.

  • 1
    Trying to choose airlines/routes which use the Boeing 787 is also something you can look at. Obviously that doesn't help in every (or even most) scenarios, but if there are two similarly priced tickets with different airlines for the same route, it's an option. The 787 uses a higher level of pressurisation, which means there's less of a chance for your ears to handle
    – Jon Story
    May 27, 2016 at 15:41

The best way is to have a chewing gum. You can also block your nostrils, close your mouth and push the air through your ear conduits.

If you have a cold, it might get worse. There are some medicines available to take before the flight.

  • 2
    When ascending, you should actually "suck" the air using the technique mentioned, because the pressure inside your ear is higher than that outside (due to the plane climbing into higher, thinner air). On the descent the reverse is true.
    – Jon Story
    May 27, 2016 at 15:42

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