Why Do Our Ears Get Blocked During a Flight on an Aeroplane?

By Aishani Balakumar

Recently, I was on a flight to Holland for a holiday, and one thing I noticed was that my ears were blocked as soon as the flight had taken off. This urged me to find out why and to share it.

Diagram of the inner ear – Adobe Images ©

These two parts of the inner ear affect why we have ear pain during a flight:

Eustachian tube: This is the tube which allows air to pass through from the inner ear back to the back of the nose and the throat. When the plane ascends, there is less air pressure so the trapped air from the ground must go into our inner ears. If this doesn’t happen, the eardrums may stick out. If it does, then all the air that was overpressured would simply go through this tube from it. (Aaftink, (2019)

Eardrums: When the plane descends down to the ground, the air pressure increases  and therefore leads to the eardrums to be pushed inwards. The pressure on the other side of the eardrums must be increased. (Aaftink (2019)

When the aircraft is descending, there is more air pressure and so this will go into your ears where you can feel it and get pain in your ears. (Aaftink (2019) The next section gives some tips on how to prevent ear pain.

Tips to prevent ear pain during a flight

  1. Try not to sleep during take-offs and landings
  2. Use a nasal spray
  3. Try filtered earplugs
  4. Try swallowing or keeping spit on one side of your mouth

Posted in Science & Tech.