How to avoid risks to the ear during a flight

Written by: Dr. Juan García-Valdecasas Bernal
Edited by: Top Doctors®

It is very common to have ear discomfort when traveling by plane: noises, earache, tamponade, etc.. It is therefore important to follow the advice of specialist medical Otolaryngology to avoid the two main risks to the ear during a flight: the aerotitis and cabin noise.

Earache on the plane

The middle ear communicates with the nostrils through the Eustachian tube and the ear canal through the tympanic membrane. When the aircraft climbs, atmospheric pressure decreases , and when lowered, the atmospheric pressure increases, which alters the pressure inside the middle ear.

Thus, the aerotitis or ear pain during flight caused by poor compensation middle ear pressure relative to the ambient pressure.

To prevent ear pain on the plane, we recommend taking the following measures:

  • Avoid flying with respiratory infections
  • Chew gum
  • ingesting water
  • Perform the Valsalva maneuver (try exhaling with the mouth and nose covered) on the ascents and descents of the plane
  • In extreme cases, use a nasal decongestant (not indiscriminately use for more than five days)


Noise in the cockpit

Noise levels inside the cab of a commercial aircraft are not considered within the limit of the pain threshold, but they can cause serious problems if the noise is constant.

Therefore, we recommend using earplugs or ear protectors to avoid sound trauma. Still, it is noteworthy that should never be used during the ascent and descent of the plane, as they hinder the pressure equalization in the middle ear.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Juan García-Valdecasas Bernal

Dr. Garcia-Valdecasas Bernal received his doctorate in medicine with outstanding Cum Laude, specializing in Otolaryngology and Pathology Cervicofacial in Granada in 2007. He has worked as a teacher and lecturer of practices at the university level, and as a researcher at the Hospital Universitario San Cecilio de Granada. He completed his training abroad, particularly in Hannover MHH otologic surgery and laser surgery of the larynx in Paris. Also, the doctor is a member of the Spanish Association of Audiology (AEDA) since 2013. He has made multiple courses statewide.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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