How to Fly With Blocked Ears

Updated November 21, 2016

While flying is convenient and commonplace, there are some risks to flying with blocked ears. Barotrauma, or aeroplane ear, results from the changing air pressure during flight and can be quite uncomfortable. Instead of staying home, you can easily adjust the pressure in your ears, increasing your comfort during the flight.

Check with your doctor if you experience blocked ears before travelling. An ear infection or other disease can worsen with air travel. Even if there is no sign of infection, you may wish to purchase decongestants to take the day before and the day of travel. Decongestants relieve the pressure causing the blocked sensation.

Chew gum or crunchy snacks during the flight. Chewing and frequently swallowing opens the Eustachian tubes that adjust to changing air pressure and relieve blocked ears. Yawning and drinking water have the same effect.

Perform the Valsalva's manoeuvre by pinching your nose with your thumb and forefinger, while closing your mouth and blowing hard. This procedure pops the Eustachian tubes open, allowing the ear to equalise the air pressure. Repeat the Valsalva's manoeuvre every few minutes until ears are clear.


Stay awake during take-off and landing because those are the times the ears are more likely to hurt because of rapidly changing air pressure.


Please see a doctor for any severe pain before or after flight.

Things You'll Need

  • Decongestants (optional)
  • Gum
  • Crunchy snacks
  • Water
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About the Author

Jennie Dalcour began writing Internet content in 2009. She has worked several years in the telecommunications industry and in sales and marketing. She has spent many years teaching young children and has spent over four years writing curriculum for churches. She is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in clinical psychology at Regent University and has ample experience with special needs children.