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Earache on a plane

A common problem: Earache on a plane

Many people report experiencing discomfort or even pain in their ears, especially when getting off the plane for landing. And it's not just children! Adults can also feel great pain. Earache on a plane is the result of a difference in pressure between the inside of the ear and the outside of the ear.

The harmful effects of barometric depression are reduced by pressurizing the device . Air taken from the outside is injected into the cabin using compressors which maintain an “artificial” altitude varying between 1,800 and 2,000 meters. […].

Pressure variations on descent are sometimes painful: pain in the sinuses or ears, sensation of blocked ears. Rarely, barotraumatic otitis occurs due to poor pressure balancing. Indeed, when the plane climbs, the gas contained in the middle ear expands. Excess air is evacuated into the throat through the Eustachian tube. When the plane descends, the gas contained in the ear retracts. The Eustachian tube then behaves like an anti-reflux valve and prevents air from the throat from returning to the ear. The volume contained in the middle ear decreases, the walls of the Eustachian tube collapse and further prevent air from passing through. Retraction of the eardrum is painful. ”

Source :

How to avoid or control earaches?

Depending on the individual and the morphology of the ear, the solution will not necessarily be the same for everyone. Testimonials from our members confirm that what works for some people does not bring relief to others. For example, “airplane” type traffic jams completely resolve the situation for some and are of no help to others.

This article explains the phenomenon well (with relevant drawings) and offers some solutions:

Other information shared by our members

Some people use decongestants and it works very well for them.

Line Plante: My travel agent told me to take a Sudafed tablet 30 minutes before the plane starts to descend and I have never had any pain since I did that, and it's been years. I even give it to people on the plane and they all love it. Wonderful !

As the problem is different from person to person, so is the solution. It therefore seems relevant to me to ask your doctor or the staff of a travel clinic before opting for a solution, especially if it involves medication.

Last thing

Now here is something that we often find on the forums and which seems to be effective:


A grandmother's trick quite used by flight attendants is commonly called "hot cups". Super simple to make, it is apparently very effective. Placebo effect some say, while others confirm the relief. So why not try it?

So here's how to do it:

· We ask for 2 glasses, Styrofoam or plastic, as well as a little hot water.

· Place 2-3 small paper towels in a ball at the bottom of each glass, soaked in hot water. Be careful, we make sure that the paper is completely soaked so as not to burn the child.

· A glass is placed on each ear of the child. The heat and humidity, as well as the internal pressure in the glass will help rebalance the pressure in the eardrum and relieve pain. Pssst… it’s also good for adults.

· We laugh because, for a moment, the child will certainly be comical with his glasses on his ears.

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