By Shelly Abramovich
We’ve all been there — after a long flight, we disembark, feeling the sensation of pressure and stuffiness in our ears. For many, this sensation quickly fades; but for others, especially children, the discomfort can linger. Why does this happen, and what’s the best way to tackle it? Let’s uncover the mystery of clogged ears while flying and reveal the genius hack that might be the relief you’re seeking!
First, it’s essential to understand why ears feel blocked during flights. As an aircraft changes altitude during takeoff and landing, the cabin’s air pressure is altered. This leads to a mismatch between the pressure outside the ear and the pressure inside the middle ear. The Eustachian tube, a tiny canal connecting your middle ear to the back of your nose and upper throat, tries to balance this by letting in or out small amounts of air. But sometimes, it doesn’t quite manage, resulting in that familiar, unpleasant feeling.
Before diving into the hack, it’s worth mentioning some other primary remedies. Swallowing and yawning can help open the Eustachian tube, allowing the pressure to balance. When the tube opens, you might hear a “pop” — the sweet sound of relief! Frequent sips of water can also help. Another method is chewing gum — the repetitive jaw movements may release the blockage. Some people also use nasal decongestant sprays or specialized earplugs. However, if these don’t work, and you’re left feeling like you’re underwater, it’s time to bring out the hack.
The balloon trick:
The nifty remedy for post-flight ear blockages is none other than the unassuming deflated balloon. This technique, while particularly beneficial for kids, is equally advantageous for adults. Here’s how it works: First, always keep a small deflated balloon in your carry-on. After your flight, if you notice that uncomfortable ear blockage, resist the urge to simply wait it out. Instead, you can use the balloon to your advantage.
Begin to gently blow into it, taking care not to exert too much effort. The key is to generate enough force to stimulate the Eustachian tube to help equalize the pressure within the ear. You might feel that “pop” in your ear — the familiar and satisfying cue that indicates a clear ear passage.
Lastly, if ear discomfort persists after multiple attempts at relief or lasts for days (or if you’re unsure about any of these techniques), always consult a healthcare professional. In rare cases, persistent ear pain can indicate an infection or other underlying issues that may require medical attention.
Indeed, flying can be a thrilling experience, but for those left with that post-flight ear discomfort, it can be a frustrating end to a journey. With a blend of natural techniques and the genius balloon hack, travelers can ensure they land to their destination feeling fresh — and not the nagging feeling of clogged ears. As you take to the skies, remember these tips, ensuring not only memorable trips but also comfortable landings.