Airplane ear : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment


What is Airplane ear?

Airplane ear, also known as aerotitis media, is an uncomfortable ear condition that can occur during flights or other changes in atmospheric pressure. It is caused by an unequal pressure between the outside and inner ear that can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty hearing. Symptoms of airplane ear include pain, an itching or tickling sensation in the ear canal, muffled hearing, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. Fortunately, airplane ears are usually temporary and can be easily relieved with simple treatments.

Airplane ear, medically known as barotrauma of the ear, is a common condition that occurs when there is an imbalance between the air pressure in your middle ear and the surrounding environment. This imbalance is caused by the changes in air pressure in your cabin during a flight. Symptoms include a feeling of pressure or fullness, pain, a blocked sensation, and muffled hearing. In rare cases, extreme barotrauma can cause a rupture of the eardrum, which can be a very painful experience.

  1. Ear

  2. Outer ear

  3. Earlobe

  4. Eardrum

  5. Middle ear

  6. Ossicles

  7. Inner ear

  8. Cochlea

  9. Vestibule of the ear

  10. Semicircular canals

Medical terms

  • Airplane ear, also known as barotrauma, is a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears that comes from a change in air pressure during flights. It is caused by a difference in pressure between the air inside the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, and the air outside of the body. To treat airplane ear, yawning, chewing gum and swallowing can help equalize the pressure in the ears. In more serious cases, special ear drops or a decongestant can be used to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Airplane ear, also known as barotrauma, is an uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, condition that affects your ears during air travel. It occurs when the air pressure in the middle ear is out of balance with the pressure in the environment. The most common symptom of airplane ear is a sensation of fullness or popping in the ears. People may also experience pain, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears.

  • Airplane ear, also known as barotrauma, is a condition suffered by passengers of aircraft due to a change in air pressure. This can cause pain and discomfort, especially when landing and taking off an airplane. During the ascent and descent, the air pressure outside the aircraft quickly changes which can cause a difference in pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear space. This pressure difference can lead to a slight popping sensation in the ears, as well as dizziness, pain, and ringing in the ears.

Symptoms Airplane ear

Airplane ear can arise in one or both ears. Common signs and symptoms and signs consist of:

  • Moderate soreness or ache to your ear

  • Feeling of fullness or stuffiness for your ear

  • Muffled hearing or moderate to mild listening to loss

  • If aircraft ear is excessive, you may have:

  • Severe ache

  • Increased ear strain

  • Moderate to intense listening to loss

  • Ringing to your ear (tinnitus)

  • Spinning sensation (vertigo)

  • Bleeding out of your ear

When to see a doctor

If discomfort, fullness or muffled listening to lasts a number days, or if you have intense symptoms or signs and symptoms, name your medical doctor

Causes Airplane ear

Airplane ear happens while the air stress in the center ear and the air pressure inside the environment don't suit, stopping your eardrum (tympanic membrane) from vibrating usually. A slender passage known as the eustachian tube, that's related to the middle ear, regulates air strain.

When a plane climbs or descends, the air stress modifications unexpectedly. The eustachian tube regularly cannot react quickly enough, which causes the signs of airplane ear. Swallowing or yawning opens the eustachian tube and allows the middle ear to get extra air, equalizing the air strain.

Ear barotrauma can also be because of:

  • Scuba diving

  • Hyperbaric oxygen chambers

  • Explosions close by, consisting of in a struggle area

You may also enjoy a minor case of barotrauma at the same time as riding an elevator in a tall building or using it in the mountains.

Risk Airplane ear

Any situation that blocks the eustachian tube or limits its function can boom the hazard of airplane ear. Common hazard factors consist of:

  • A small eustachian tube, mainly in babies and toddlers

  • The not unusual cold

  • Sinus infection

  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)

  • Middle ear infection (otitis media)

  • Sleeping on an aircraft for the duration of ascent and descent because you aren't actively doing things to equalize pressure on your ears such as yawning or swallowing

Complications Airplane ear

Airplane ear commonly is not extreme and responds to self-care. Long-term headaches can not often arise whilst the circumstance is severe or prolonged or if there may be damage to center or inner ear systems.

Rare headaches may encompass:

  • Permanent listening to loss

  • Ongoing (continual) tinnitus

Prevention Airplane ear

Follow those recommendations to keep away from aircraft ear:

  • Yawn and swallow during ascent and descent. These spark off the muscle groups that open your eustachian tubes. You can suck on candy or chunk gum to help you swallow.

  • Use the Valsalva maneuver at some point of ascent and descent. Gently blow, as if blowing your nostril, whilst pinching your nostrils and maintaining your mouth closed. Repeat several times, specifically throughout descent, to equalize the strain among your ears and the airplane cabin.

  • Don't sleep throughout takeoffs and landings. If you're awake at some stage in ascents and descents, you may do the essential self-care techniques while you sense pressure for your ears.

  • Reconsider tour plans. If feasible, don't fly when you have a cold, a sinus contamination, nasal congestion or an ear contamination. If you have had ear surgery these days, talk to your doctor about when it is safe to journey.

  • Use an over-the-counter nasal spray. If you have got nasal congestion, use a nasal spray approximately 30 minutes to an hour before takeoff and touchdown. Avoid overuse, but, due to the fact nasal sprays taken over 3 to four days can increase congestion.

  • Use decongestant capsules carefully. Decongestants taken by using the mouth would possibly assist if taken 30 minutes to an hour before an aircraft flight. However, when you have heart sickness, a coronary heart rhythm ailment or excessive blood pressure or you're pregnant, keep away from taking an oral decongestant.

  • Take an allergic reaction medicinal drug. If you've got allergic reactions, take your remedy approximately an hour earlier than your flight.

  • Try filtered earplugs. These earplugs slowly equalize the stress against your eardrum at some point of ascents and descents. You should buy these at drugstores, airport gift stores or a hearing medical institution. However, you will nevertheless need to yawn and swallow to relieve stress.

If you're vulnerable to excessive plane ear and need to fly regularly or if you're having hyperbaric oxygen remedy to heal wounds, your physician might surgically place tubes to your eardrums to aid fluid drainage, ventilate your center ear, and equalize the pressure among your outer ear and center ear.

Helping youngsters prevent plane ear

To help young youngsters:

  • Encourage swallowing. Give a baby or infant a bottle to suck on all through ascents and descents to encourage common swallowing. A pacifier also might help. Have the child sit up while drinking. Children older than four can try chewing gum, ingesting through a straw or blowing bubbles through a straw.

  • Avoid decongestants. Decongestants are not endorsed for younger kids.

What can be done to relieve symptoms of airplane ear?

Airplane ear is a very common condition that affects travelers, usually those flying on airplanes. It is caused by the changes in pressure that occur during flight, which can cause discomfort in the ears. Symptoms of airplane ear can range from mild to severe, such as pain and a feeling of being “plugged up”. Fortunately, there are a few things travelers can do to help relieve symptoms of airplane ear.

Airplane ear, more formally known as aerotitis media, is an issue that affects a lot of airline passengers. It is caused by rapid changes in air pressure while in flight, and it can cause a wide array of uncomfortable symptoms like pain, pressure, and even hearing loss. Treatment for the condition is typically centered around the use of decongestants to help open the blocked eustachian tube. Additionally, chewing gum or yawning can help to open the tube and relieve symptoms of airplane ear.

Suggestions to assist ease the discomfort of airplane ear include:

  • Stay wide awake during takeoff and landing. This will assist the passenger be greater privy to adjustments in the ears, and so better able to react.

  • Swallow and yawn while ear pain starts. This helps the Eustachian tubes open. The extra they open, the more the Eustachian tubes can even out the air strain. With infants, it is beneficial to feed them or provide them with a drink or a pacifier at the time of the airplane’s descent so that they will swallow.

  • Chew gum at some point of the flight, specifically at some stage in takeoff and earlier than the aircraft begins its descent, to help equalize the stress.

  • Blow your nostril slightly right into a tissue to alleviate pressure.

  • Blow air via your nose whilst remaining in your mouth and pinching your nostril. This easy exercise allows greater air to get into the Eustachian tubes.

  • Take a decongestant in case you are afflicted by a chilly or allergies. It may help clear up your ears earlier than the aircraft lands.

  • Wear ear plugs to help regulate pressure within the ears.

Diagnosis Airplane ear

Your doctor will likely be capable of making an analysis based on your history and an exam of your ear with a lighted instrument (otoscope).

  1. Palpation

  2. Percussion

Treatment Airplane ear

For the general public, airplane ear generally heals with time. When the signs persist, you can want treatments to equalize strain and relieve signs and symptoms.


Your medical doctor might advise you take:

  • Decongestant nasal sprays

  • Oral decongestants

To ease discomfort, you can take a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug, along with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), or an analgesic pain reliever, which include acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Self-care treatments

With your drug remedy, your physician will train you to use the Valsalva maneuver. To do that, you pinch your nostrils close, close your mouth and lightly pressure air into the again of your nostril, as in case you have been blowing your nostril.


Surgical treatment of airplane ears is rarely necessary. Even excessive accidents, such as a ruptured eardrum or ruptured membranes of the inner ear, usually heal on their own.

However, in rare instances, an office procedure or surgical treatment is probably needed. This may include a method wherein an incision is made for your eardrum (myringotomy) to equalize air strain and drain fluids.

  1. Hearing rehabilitation

Preparing on your appointment

If you have severe pain or symptoms related to aircraft ear that do not enhance with self-care techniques, speak to your circle of relatives, physician or a popular practitioner. You would possibly then be stated as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

What you may do

To prepare for your appointment, make a listing of:

  • Your signs and after they began

  • All medicinal drugs, nutrients or different supplements you take, including doses

  • Questions to ask your medical doctor

Questions in your physician about plane ear would possibly consist of:

  • Is my ear pain probably related to my latest aircraft travel?

  • What is the first-rate remedy?

  • Am I possibly having long-term complications?

  • How can I prevent this from occurring again?

  • Should I take into account canceling journey plans?

What to anticipate out of your medical doctor

Your physician will ask you questions, together with:

  • How excessive are your signs and symptoms?

  • Do you have allergic reactions?

  • Have you had a chilly, sinus contamination or ear infection these days?

  • Have you had an airplane ear before?

  • Were your past reviews with plane ear extended or severe?

What you can do within the period in-between

To deal with pain, you may take a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug, along with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), or a pain reliever, which includes acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

General summary

  1. Airplane ear, also known as aero otitis media, is a condition caused by the pressure changes experienced in an airplane cabin. It occurs most often with descent, but can also happen when the plane is climbing. This can cause pain, temporary hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Some ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms of airplane ear are to chew gum, yawn, and swallow while ascending and descending.

  2. Flying can be a hassle and can result in a number of medical issues, including the uncomfortable condition known as airplane ear. It is the result of a change in air pressure, which causes the eustachian tubes of the ear to become swollen or blocked. Fortunately, there are a few steps people can take to reduce the discomfort associated with airplane ear. Before flying, people should take a decongestant in order to reduce inflammation.

  3. Airplane ear, also known as barotrauma, is a common condition that affects some people when they fly. It is caused by changes in air pressure when the airplane takes off and lands, resulting in a feeling of fullness or pain in the ears. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that travelers can take to help relieve the symptoms of airplane ear. One of the best ways to prevent airplane ear is to yawn, chew gum, or swallow frequently during takeoff and landing.

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