Relief for Airplane Ear


Traveling by airplane for work or pleasure is often a great way to arrive quickly at your destination. Although flying often affords convenience to arrive by a scheduled time, you may have to endure some physical challenges in terms of patience, cramped muscles or airplane ear.

Airplane ear is an injury to the middle ear caused by unequal pressure between your middle ear and the cabin. It usually transpires when fluid builds up in the ear due to a sinus infection, cold, allergies or congestion. It may occur in one or both ears and usually causes temporary pain and hearing loss. Here’s a list of possible symptoms:

  • Pressure inside your ear
  • Discomfort in the middle ear
  • Dizziness
  • Bleeding from inside your ear
  • Ringing in your ear
  • Minor hearing loss
  • Feeling of stuffiness in your ear

Treatment Options

The best solution is to avoid developing airplane ear by yawning during takeoff and landing, using earplugs or taking an over-the-counter decongestant, nasal spray or allergy medication.

Symptoms associated with airplane ear often heal without medical intervention, but if the problem continues it is important to contact your doctor to avoid serious complications, such as a ruptured eardrum, ear infection or temporary or permanent hearing loss. Depending on the severity of the ear problem, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, antihistamine, decongestant or nasal spray. If the problem is not cured, surgery may be required.

Airplane ear can be a painful condition, but the symptoms are often temporary in nature. Fortunately there are over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription treatment options available to remedy the problem.

If you have experienced airplane ear, what were your symptoms and what treatment options were pursued? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group