Ear pain while flying can be caused by pressure on the ear drum increasing or decreasing as cabin pressure changes during take-off and landing. The pressure causes the ear drum to expand and results in pain. Swallowing or chewing gum can help to cause pressure equalisation, and there are many ear plugs on the market that have been developed to help with noise reduction and air pressure issues.
EarPlanes ($5 to$7 as of the date of publication) are ribbed ear plugs that regulate air pressure and are disposable. They were developed by the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles and tested by the U.S. Navy. EarPlanes help to alleviate the pressure changes caused by take-off and landing. The four ribs help to seal the plug to the ear canal and reduce pressure. The ear plugs come in two sizes. Check out local drugstores or the airport for these plugs.
Flents FliteMate Pressure Reducing Earplugs ($5.35 as of the date of publication) help with ear pain and nausea caused by pressure changes when in motion. They are perfect for flying and mountain driving at high elevations. The plugs also reduce background noise and are soft and comfortable in the ears. These plugs are washable and reusable. One size fits most children and adults. The ear plugs have a bulbous tip and winged end for inserting in the ears. Pinch the tip and insert it into the ear so the foam will fill the cavity.
Alpine TravelFit ($13.40 as of the date of publication) are made in the Netherlands and not well known in America. The plugs have a little plastic filter with a hole through them to regulate air flow and ease air changes and pressure at take-off and landing. The ear plugs reduce noise but still allow you to speak with people around you. The plug is made of a soft silicone material that easily conforms to the ear. They tend to be more expensive. They are reusable and washable, and one size fits most adults.
Hearos Ear Plugs
The Ultimate Softness Hearos ear plugs ($1.99-plus as of the date of publication) help people sleep better, protect hearing and reduce noise on aeroplanes. They are soft and have a comfortable fit, making for a pleasant experience while trying to sleep on an aeroplane. They are reusable and reduce noise up to 32 decibels. Buy them at drugstores or department stores.