Comfortably Relieve Ear Pain When Flying With This Technique

Comfortably Relieve Ear Pain When Flying With This Technique

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]


  • Just keep your mouth open during take off/landing to prevent getting the pain at all.

    Much easier.

    • For some of us it isn’t that simple.
      Despite using all of these techniques, if I have a cold, I literally become deaf during descent.

      • Apologies, my point was more that it seemed weird the article didn’t mention any common ways to prevent the issue in the first point.

        That said I was also unaware that the open mouth trick didn’t work for some people, it’s just always worked for me and anyone else I suggested. Hope the new technique to fix it is helpful for you!

        • No offence taken at all.
          Honestly think I get off lightly!
          I have a friend with a long-term brain-stent, her doctor claims that changes in pressure resulting from flight or diving have a pretty good chance of killing her!

  • If I fly international I have about a 50/50 shot at my ears refusing to adjust from cruising altitude back down to sea level. So far nothing seems effective in either preventing this or resolving it once it happens.

    It’s as excruciating as it sounds, and I think it’s the main reason that I’m getting more and more afraid of flying as I get older.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!