One common problem which many of us must have faced in a plane is the sudden closure of sorts of the ear, especially while taking off.

How can one avoid that sometimes unbearable feeling? I have read that munching on something or plugging in earphones can possibly prevent the sensation. But what if I didn't bring food or earphones, and don't want to buy them?


6 Answers 6


I find that forcing yourself to yawn clears the effect.

A yawn stretches the muscles around the Eustachian tubes. So, if the tubes are a bit blocked, they will open and your ear pressure will equalize.

As soon as you start to feel the effect in your ears, yawn.

I've used this trick for years now. It is very simple and far more effective than swallowing or sucking mints.

  • 1
    chewing a gum will work too :)
    – Narzan Q.
    Feb 13, 2017 at 12:35
  • 1
    Swallowing works as well
    – Shokhet
    Feb 14, 2017 at 16:32
  • Thanks, will try the suggestion the next time I travel in a plane.
    – Saksham
    Feb 14, 2017 at 16:36
  • I do the same thing, yawning, when it happens to me from a long drive up the mountain. Really works.
    – user19499
    Feb 18, 2017 at 14:29
  • 1
    Yawning and swallowing works. I do it all the time. Yawning is the most effective of the two.
    – Ameer
    Jul 16, 2017 at 17:09

There is also a simple trick that helps. Inhale deep breathe and then close your nose from exhaling air outside with your index finger and thumb and also close your mouth. Then force out the air from your mouth and nose. As there is no space for air to go outside, then will build a pressure near your ears. This will reverse the effect caused due to air travels.


I fly 100,000+ miles each year. My ears used to be a huge problem. Now I don't have issues as often, but when I do... here is what I try (in order):

1) Gum (rarely works); drink hot water (as hot as I can without burning my mouth)

2) Force myself to yawn

3) Swallowing with my mouth open. The key is that the jaw is in the open position.

4) Look "away" from the clogged ear (look left if it's the right ear, vice versa), and massage the area behind my ear as I yawn.

5) Hold my nose, and swallow.

6) Benzedrex -- nasal inhaler. USE SPARINGLY -- read all directions. Afrin if I can't find Benzedrex.

7) Hold my nose, close my mouth and "exhale" (Valsalva -- doesn't usually work for me either)

I will also sometimes take Advil and Sudafed before and during a flight if I am really concerned.

I tried Earplanes, but they actually made me vomit on ascent... So, while a great idea, they are not for everyone! I have a friend who uses noise-cancelling over-ear headphones. She says they help "just enough" to slow the pressure differential.

Lastly, if you are really sensitive, you may need to be careful with what airplanes you fly. Personally, I'm more prone to ear problems on Airbus planes. The really long or short flights (7+ hours or less than 1 hour) rarely give me problems.

Good luck!

  • 2
    These answers have already been given.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 17, 2017 at 8:16

I'm someone who suffers these effects severely. Unaided, the landing process is extremely painful.

A friend who has a similar experience when flying recommended a product named Earplanes. They're earplugs that you put in before takeoff and remove after the cabin door is opened after landing. They absorb the pressure change avoiding any discomfort.


My personal solution is to solve the problem that makes me intolerant of the pressure changes: sinus congestion. For a 2-3 days before my flight, I take Sudafed (decongestant) per the directions up until my flight. Then, during the flight, I use a decongestant nasal spray (like Afrin) 30 minutes before the flight begins it's descent. This has consistently avoided pain for me and prevented the "plugged" sensation from persisting beyond the flight.


Take a bag of sweets and suck on one during takeoff. My mom told me and my brothers to do this as kids and it always worked.


I thing that I always do it carry little cotton with me and I plug that into my ears (especially when the plane takes off). If I don't have cotton, another thing that helps me is listening to music via earphones. You can use a chewing gum, though I have never tried that.

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