Ear pain caused by air pressure changes is an unfortunate side effect of flying. This physician-recommended method for relieving that pain is simple and more comfortable than some of the alternative methods out there. Photo by Travis Isaacs.
William H. Shapiro, audiologist and clinical associate professor at NYU, suggests one pain relieving technique that's safer — and less uncomfortable — than the common "Valsalva manoeuvre". For the Valsalva manoeuvre, you usually close your mouth, plug your nose and exhale as hard as you can. This can be painful and uncomfortable for some people, especially children. Dr Shapiro recommends you swap the exhaling for swallowing instead. Close your mouth, plug your nose and swallow. This allows for the same equalisation of pressure in your ears, but in a much more comfortable manner. You may have to do this technique more often to equalise the pressure in your ears, but you're also a lot less likely to harm your ears by forcing too much air out of your Eustachian tubes.
You've been popping your ears all wrong [Business Insider]