What Happens To Your Ears During A Flight?

Posted by at 09:48

Pressure and pain in your ears during a flight can be extremely annoying, even painful. And almost as unpleasant is having to wait another 12 hours, or longer, before being able to hear normally again. I’d like to give you some background information on this phenomenon, as well as some tips and tricks on how to prevent it, or minimise its effects.



How do our ears work?

Our ears enable us to hear sounds, which are actually vibrations in the air. These vibrations travel through the ear canal to a thin membrane called the eardrum, which also hermetically seals the ear canal from within. On the other side of the eardrum is a tube called the Eustachian tube, which runs from the inner ear to the back of our nose/throat, where it can vent to the air outside. This tube allows air to flow to or from the inner ear, depending on whether the pressure in the inner ear is higher or lower than ambient air pressure. An obvious precondition is that the Eustachian tube cannot be blocked! This can happen, for example, if it is obstructed by mucus or inflammation due to a cold, hay fever or perhaps a respiratory infection.

ears

What happens in our ears when an aircraft climbs?

As the aircraft climbs the air pressure inside the cabin gradually decreases until it reaches the level at which it will remain for the rest of the flight (at cruising altitude). Because this air pressure will be lower than it was at ground level it means that some of the trapped air must be allowed to escape from the inner ear. If it doesn’t, the slightly higher pressure will cause the eardrum to bulge outwards. If all goes well, the overpressure air in the inner ear simply escapes via the Eustachian tube. It’s easier for this tube to exhaust air than to suck it in, which is why hardly anyone has problems with their ears when an aircraft is climbing.

What happens in our ears when an aircraft descends?

As the aircraft descends the air pressure inside the cabin will gradually increase, so the rising air pressure will push the eardrums inwards. To counter this, the air pressure on the other side of the eardrums, in the inner ear, must also increase. To enable this to happen air must be sucked in through the Eustachian tube.

What is happening when you have problems with your ears during a flight?

If you are suffering from a cold or hay fever, the mucous membrane in the Eustachian tube can become swollen and impede the flow of air through it. Consequently, when the aircraft is descending the air pressure behind the eardrum, in the inner ear, will remain too low and will not be able to counteract the increasing cabin air pressure that is pushing the eardrums inwards. Initially you will feel this as pressure and later as pain. Furthermore, because the eardrum will be under constant pressure, it will no longer be able to vibrate freely. So you won’t be able to hear properly either.

ears

Tips and tricks to avoid ear problems

  • Swallowing and yawning opens the Eustachian tube so that air will be able to reach the inner ear during descent.
  • Even if you keep having problems long after the landing, it will still help when you keep swallowing.
  • There are a few other methods, such as blowing your nose, chewing gum, or drinking while pinching your nose closed. Whichever of these methods you find works best for you should be repeated a few times during the complete descent. We refer to all these methods as “coping”. Air is more likely to flow up the Eustachian tube if you swallow, yawn or chew.
  • Try this: breathe in, then gently breathe out with your mouth closed while pinching your nose (it’s known as the Valsalva manoeuvre). In this way, no air will be exhaled but you will be gently pushing air into the Eustachian tube. While doing this you may feel your ears go “pop” as air is pushed into the inner ear. This often solves the problem. Repeat the procedure every few minutes while landing – or whenever you feel any discomfort in your ears.
  • Do not sleep during descent (ask the steward or stewardess to wake you when the aircraft starts to descend). After all, you can only try these tips to equalise the pressure either side of your eardrums as long as you are you are awake!
  • If you have a cold, your ears are not completely blocked and you still want to fly you could try a decongestant nasal spray. One such spray, containing Xylomethalozine for example, is readily available at pharmacies. This can temporarily dry up mucus in the nose, thereby helping to open the Eustachian tube if it’s blocked by mucus.
  • To encourage them to swallow, give babies or small children a drink or pacifier during descent.

What doesn’t necessary work

  • Sometimes you might hear other “never fail” remedies. Well, at the risk of disappointing anyone, the truth is that there is no medical evidence to support putting wet cloths over your ears, for example, or covering them with cups. It may comfort you, so it won’t do any harm. But at the end of the day it will not solve the problem either. The same can be said for using eardrops or cleaning your ears. They may have a soothing effect, but they will do nothing for the pain.
  • At some airports you can buy earplugs that regulate changes in air pressure. These earplugs only slow the rate of air pressure change on the eardrum. And although not evidence based, from a medical point of view, if you find that they help, use them.

Scuba diving and flying

After scuba diving you should wait for about 12-24 hours before flying. This time frame depends on the depth to which you dived and the number of dives you made. In this case it has to do with having to clear the nitrogen from your body after diving, to avoid decompression sickness or Caisson disease. This is not directly related to the pressure issues of the ear. Although flying after diving can also make your ears malfunction (not work properly) due to the same mechanism. In a short period of time you extensively pressurize the eardrum.

ears

Fit to fly with earache?

If you have a severe cold, an earache, a high temperature or a combination of these, you might wonder whether it’s indeed wise to fly. The Eustachian tube could be blocked (due to mucus), for example, which could cause you more serious ear problems during the flight. In such a case, and if you really want to make your journey, my advice would be to have your ears checked by a medical doctor before departure. You may risk a barotrauma, damage to the eardrum due to pressure changes, or even a rupture of the eardrum (although rare). You might experience pain, hearing loss, dizziness or tinnitus (buzzing in the ears). Airport Medical Services at Schiphol has equipment that can measure the pressure-movements of the eardrum. They can also advise you on whether or not to fly. Barotrauma will heal quicker than a ruptured eardrum, which can take between a couple of weeks to several months.

Still having ear problems after your flight?

  • If the measures above fail to prevent ear pain, don’t despair. The pain may be quite acute, but it usually subsides fairly quickly. Take painkillers such as paracetamol until it goes. Fluid or mucus can sometimes accumulate in the inner ear for a few days after a flight, which may dull or dampen your hearing. This will happen if the Eustachian tube is still blocked, and it is more likely to occur if you had a cold before flying. To clear it, try one of the measures outlined above.
  • If your complaints persist, seek medical advice: 
If you are at home contact your family doctor. At Schiphol we are available 24/7 at Airport Medical Services, where you can obtain advice at our first aid post. Extensive medical care at Schiphol Airport is available at the KLM Health Services Travel Clinic, which is located next to the first aid post.
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100 Responses to What Happens To Your Ears During A Flight?

  1. Sharan

    Beautifully explained KLM. Thanks for such a useful post.

    • Dean

      Thanks KLM ,

      I am going through some ringing and hearing loss , reading this info gives me hope that its just barotrauma 18 days later hoping to get better. I am seeking help from an audiologist. Never happend to me before! Im a strong guy but hey I realise I am just from the dust where I can get weak too! KLM is cool. Jesus is Lord.

    • Anne

      Bij mijn zoon hielp dit allemaal niet en nu gebruikt hij Otalgan oordruppels die verdoven je trommelvlies half uur voor stijgen en een uur voor de daling inzet, hij heeft nooit meer problemen gehad.
      En ook voor mijn kleinzoon gebruiken we dezelfde druppels en hij heeft nergens last van.
      —————-
      Otalgan bevat de werkzame stof lidocaïnehydrochloride, die behoort tot de groep van lokale anesthetica. Het biedt verlichting bij oorpijn door het oor te verdoven. Gewoon te koop bij de drogist of kruidvat AH enz.

      • Anne

        I write it in dutch, now i try english:

        Otalgan Contains the active substance lidocaine hydrochloride, die belongs to the group of local anesthetics. It provides relief from ear pain by drowning the ear. Just for sale at the drugstore Kruidvat AH etc.

  2. jan reijnders

    beste mensen
    goed stuk, maar alhoewel het lezen van Engels voor mij geen problemen oplevert, zou ik het wel zinnig vinden om een dergelijk onderwerp ook in het Nederlands te kunnen lezen. Bij de standaarduitrusting in de stoel van het vliegtuig, zou dit artikel een welkome service zijn
    Groeten
    Jan

    • Didi Aaftink

      Beste Jan,
      Dank voor je suggestie. We zullen kijken naar de mogelijkheden hierin. Ook zullen we zorgen dat er en vertaling komt.

      • Toon

        Het lijkt me inderdaad logisch om dit ook in het Nederlands te doen. Alhoewel Engels verplicht is op school zijn er toch nog veel mensen die moeite hebben met het Engels.

        • p

          als het in het engels geschreven wordt dan graag wel correct engels en niet nederlandse zinnen direct vertalen naar het engels.

          • John

            Goed stuk idd maar even het kopje What doesn’t necessary work aanpassen.. Moet zijn necessarily.

  3. Peter Horrocks

    This is a very useful article. To get some idea of what is happening to your body when you fly I suggest you buy a packet of Pringles and just look at what has happened to the seal on board and see how the air escapes when you open them. It is clear your body needs a little help as the same is happening to your cells, so you may need to be careful about flying.

    Best wishes

    Peter Horrocks

    • Didi Aaftink

      Dear Peter,

      Thank you for your comment. You are completely right!

      Best regards, Didi

    • Rob Vermeulen

      Cells? Didi’s useful text is about air passing to and from the inner ear. I see no reference to how cells react to pressure differences. If that’s a point it should be a different story altogether.
      It’s good to know though that Pringles are sold without Eustachian tubes…

  4. Sylvia L Kinley

    Thank you .. Super info ! My problems are worst when landing due to severe skull-surgery. I find the “yawn method” best. This is “part of a flight” … It does not last forever!!

  5. Janneke van Holst

    De oplossing is: earplanes! Echt waar mensen, ik zat huilend van de pijn in het vliegtuig, zoveel last had ik, en met die earplanes heb ik nauwelijks het stijgen en landen door. Ja een beetje doof maar dat is alles. Dus, earplanes. Niet duur, gewoon bij de drogist.

    • Roos

      Indeed, I use these earplugs together with a spray and the pain is minimal now.
      Nice article!

  6. Peter

    Using an Antihistamine tablet shortly before takeoff might help in some cases

    • Erik

      Antihistamines are against allergic reactions, I see no point of using them for pressure problems…

      • Natalie

        It is said that as a side effect antihistamines tend to widen the Eustachian tube. Works great for me. And earplanes, please use them. The best advice I ever got!

  7. Asghar khan

    Great and thanks for giving beautiful information

  8. Stefan Speelberg

    Great blog KLM. Very useful tips for preventing earache.

    My diving instructor once told me that it is better to start equalizing the pressure sooner than later (at the earliest signs of pressure change in the ears). Once the ears are painful you are too late since it will be harder and more painful to equalize the pressure. So starting the exercises early is a key thing in preventing painful ears.

    Keep up the good work!

    Stefan

  9. Erik

    Some times it helps to carefully pull your earlobe down a little whilst you have your mouth open, this worked well for me !

  10. Sean

    Sudafed or any nasal decongestant with some ibuprofen is a good combo to reduce the pain and counter the pressure differences in the ear.

    • Didi Aaftink

      This definitely will help…the only thing is ibuprofen could have some side effects, especially if you use it frequently, for which I would prefer people to use paracetamol(Tylenol)

      • Bella

        I have used sudafed now twice, and to my joy it works! Only downside is that it’s not available in the Netherlands…

  11. Alessandra

    Great article! Personally I always make sure to have a bottle of water with me before boarding (or ask for an extra glass with the meal, if i don’t have my water).

    As soon as the captain informs that the descent is starting i start sipping the water at short intervals till touch down.

    Works well every time

    • Didi Aaftink

      Thank you for your comment. Sounds like a frequent traveler!

      • Tyler

        But ibuprofen is better for your liver when you combine it with the heavy drinking required for flying. ;-)

  12. Samuel Wachira

    Thanks for the advice. I always fear descents due to the pain in my ears and it gets worse with every flight, I almost think I will lose my hearing.

    • Lisa

      I feel the same too, It’s so horrible it makes me dread going on a plane

  13. Lars

    Good article, though tried everything and often problems remained. What helped for me in the end are very good noise cancelling earphones (over the ear).

  14. Alfa

    This is very beneficial for me because I do have problems when am flying especially on decent,
    Thanks for the info

  15. Szilvia

    Hi, really useful and informative article, thank you! it would be great addition to understand how nose cancelling earphones affect your ears during flight.

  16. chris de gruyter

    Ik heb zowel bij opstijgen als dalen flink last in beide oren als gevolg van probleem aan de buis van Eustachius (wanden zijn niet glad maar met versmallingen). Zelf het op en af rijden in hogere bergen geeft bij mij hetzelfde resultaat als in een vliegtuig (wel in mindere mate). Het beste resultaat heb ik met het nemen van Synutab een 1/2 uurtje voor de vlucht, nog wat neusspray erbij en earplugs. Tijdens het opstijgen en dalen constant blijven geeuwen (geen gezicht maar tja beter dat dan 3 dagen doof en veel pijn) en de neus dichtknijpen en dan lucht proberen door te drukken tot je telkens een plopje hoort. Ik heb altijd wel mijn bezigheid ;-) maar het helpt.

  17. John Schols

    Good to explain this KLM. Although the Nadal spray is called xylometazoline ;-) it works well. My doctor gave me following advise: 20 min before take-off, if the flights Will be more then aprox 3 hours, every 2 1/2 – 3 hours one dosis and always 20-25 minutes before landing one dosis, even if the flight takes less time. It helps me preventing (sometimes severe) eartrouble (over 100 flights last year). As suggested before: A translation into Dutch could help more flyers.

    • John Schols

      Sorry for “Nadal”. Autocorrect….

      • Didi Aaftink

        Dear John,

        We are working on the translation! Thank you for your comment.

  18. Debbie Rafuse

    I have had ear problems while flying for many years…have tried all of the methods mentioned in this tepirt. Saying that, I have found only one method to help me!!! I always use Nasal spray….Most of my problems are during the decent..that is usually really bad for me, so when I know that we are starting to decent, I use my Nasal spray…and keep using it..every few minutes until we land. If not for that…I would be in alot if pain…….

  19. Suresh chand Lohani

    Very peculiar advice for commuter.It is absolutely happens to ears and preventions are therefore an ethical approach to solve the ear problem.

  20. Jeannine St-Amour

    Very informative. My problem is not only the pain in my ears but also the dizziness I have when we lift off. I feel like I am drunk. My head spins and that is every time I take a flight. It is so scary and annoying that I do not take the plane anymore.

    • Ruud van Dijk

      Hi jeanine,
      For me the same. No problem when descending, only ascending. Allways very dizzy between 5 and 10 km. After 30 minutes it will usually stop, but sometimes I get sick and vomit from the dizziness. Found no cure so far, but I keep traveling. It is very scary indeed. Anyone suggestions? Ps even when driving up a high mountain too fast (2000-3000m) gives me dizziness, although less.

  21. Evelyn Eisenstein

    i need to take a steroid/ meticorten 5 mg tablets half an hour before the airplane leaves and sometimes also the next day… but the question is: why some aiplanes are worse than others? whose fault?

  22. Monique Latremouille

    I have been taking a sinutab tablet approximately one hour before landing and it works everytime.

  23. mamah mehlig

    Thanks for the tip,i always have that problem, it doesn’t matter with which airline am traveling with,thanks again

  24. Jozsef palinkas

    How about pets,…dogs???
    Do they have same problems?

  25. Marian

    An old lady, former stewardess, once told me to put cups over your ears. She always gave cups to mothers with young children with a cold. Always helped, she told me.

    • DJ

      In fact, it was a KLM flight attendant a few years ago who taught me about the cups with HOT water in paper in the bottom. That information was just confirmed by an ear specialist in the US a few months ago. It DOES work, if the water is hot enough, although why it works is not clear. It may create a vacuum if you hold the cup/s just right, or it may relax the muscles involved.

      • DJ

        PS And some of us are bothered ONLY at ascent! Giving advice predicated only descent only, plus discounting the utility of an older remedy, especially when pills, nose sprays, earplanes, drinking and yawning are not effective, is less than professional.

      • Julie

        Was just reading all these tips for handling ear pressure pain on flights. I have suffered this problem all my life. To the point of screaming with pain on flights. Around 15 years ago during decent I was drinking a hot cup of tea. The pain was almost unbearable so trying to find a way to stop the pain I put my ear against the cup. To my surprise the steam actually helped. It created a vacuum. My partner quickly organised the flight attendant to bring another cup with a napkin placed in the bottom of the cup and boiling water (enough just to soak the napkin). This was almost instant relief. So I can absolutely recommend doing this. I actually think I discovered it. lol. Anyway I have found that some flight attendants won’t do it due to risk of burning myself – but hey I am screaming in pain so if I say it works, it works!

  26. Jolanda

    Getting ears checked if unsure is wise, I ended up with glue ear after flying with an infection and was deaf in one ear for a year, Yeuk

  27. Eric

    Hi Didi,

    Thanks for the usefull info. I sometimes have a slightly different sort of pain durind decsending; a stinging pain behind my eye. Jawning and drinking helps best but not always.

    • Didi Aaftink

      Dear Eric, this could be “referred pain”. Pain experienced on a different location then where it originally comes from, if nothing is wrong with your eyes. Try the tips mentioned in the blog besides the yawning & drinking.

    • p

      sinusproblems I my first opinion

  28. Gerard van Geijn

    Hallo Didi,

    Net als Jan Reijnders ben ik ook van mening dat het fijn zou zijn als er een Nederlandse vertaling zou zijn. Mijn vrouw heeft veel last van haar oren. Vooral bij de landing.
    Dank je wel voor de zeer interessante informatie.

    • Didi Aaftink

      Dank Gerard! We werken aan de vertaling!

  29. Bep Nolet

    Het zou heel prettig zijn om ook een vertaling in het Nederlands te zien
    Bedankt voor de zeer goede voor lichtingen.

  30. Anthony

    Bedankt for het artikel, KLM
    Not noticeable when gaining altitude, this occurs predominantly when the plane has already descended, usually around the 50% altitude level, increasing in intensity, until the plane lands.
    I will definitely consider these tips!!!

    Anthony
    Québec, Canada.

  31. Natalia

    I am a frecuent traveller and suffer with blocked ears when descending and for hours afterwards but I found out that putting my head Down like trying to touch my knee with my head! helps to unblock my hears nicely and naturally :) good luck and try it next time!

  32. Daan Mozes

    Nice article, but I am missing dome important facts:
    – why is the airpressure going down when a plane goes in the air? Just pumping it up could keep the pressure high enough.
    – what is the pressure in a plain at max. height?

    • Rob Vermeulen

      Passenger aircraft designed for high altitudes have pressurized cabins: they are in fact ‘pumped up’ so there’s enough air and thus oxygen) pressure to be able to breath. Even so, for practical purposes the pressure inside the cabin at cruise altitude is lower than on the ground. Pumping up the cabin any further would require the cabin walls to be stronger and thus heavier. That would make the aircraft too heavy to fly economically.
      So in practice the pressure inside is kept to what it would be outside at about 2 km above sea level. In some newer airlines it can be somewhat higher to increase comfort.

  33. Samm

    I use ear plugs, not only on flights, but for sleeping at home. Looks like blocking air passage is not recommended. I have been doing this for 25 years, and the last 20 years I get dizziness easily, could it be from blocking my ears with ear plugs?

  34. Albert Eysink

    De suggestie is gedaan om dit artikel ook in het Nederlands aan te bieden. Vlieg je richting Duitsland, Oostenrijk of Zwitserland, bied het dan ook aan in het Duits.
    Brasilie, Porugal, ook in het Portugees. Spanje? Ook in het Spaans.
    Naar Israël? Yvriet en Arabisch enz. Dat is nog eens klantvriendelijk en het doet voor allen leuk aan om e.e.a. in de taal van je hart te kunnen lezen.
    Wij als Nederlanders zijn toch van alle markten thuis? Show
    it!

  35. Gargee

    I had this problem a year ago. We had 2 descents to cope with whilst having a cold. The pain was ubearable. After the flights I still had ear problems. Pain,buzzing, cracking sounds, build up of pressure (feeling as if warmth is escaping). Up to 6 months after the flight I was told that this would disappear. We are now more than a year and a number of specialists further, and I am none the wiser. I have one more hope, a speialist who deals with flight attendants/personnel in Amstelland Hospital. If that doesn’t help then I suppose the ears are permanently damaged.
    Unless someone else know’s better?

    • Fadi

      Gargee, I have been experiencing the same symptoms for the past 7 years, except I did not have any cold then, my hearing was 10/10 before that trip. I have already seen 7 ear doctors during this time frame but unfortunately no luck. If you happen to see a doctor that will be able to help you pls let me know I will travel anywhere in the world to see the Doctor, I wish you best of luck.

      • Gargee

        Thank you Fadi.
        I will let you know how I get on.

  36. Joanne Davies

    My daughter suffers badly with her ears when flying & last year suffered such bad pain when landing she was screaming with pain , within an hr of landing & in our apartment she suffered what looked like a nose bleed . The ” nose bleeds ” continued for the next 4 days , it happened at least 3 times a day & especially when she bent over , but the discharge from her nose was not red but orange , we took her to a doctor & she had suffered a perforated eardrum combined with a bad cold she had had the week before we went away , she had antibiotics & on the journey home she a boiled sweet in her mouth ear plugs & a jacket wrapped around her head , she looked a sight but helped & luckily she slept all the way home

  37. Rhonda

    I have so much trouble I was going to invest in flying tubes but I found such an easy solution, for me anyway…a cough drop that has a liquid centre..20 minutes before take off take one, let it dissolve on it’s own, before landing about 30 minutes do the same..pain free ears!

  38. Alejandro

    Good article. No mention of children and especially babies, who have a hard time with their ears in airplanes – and can make it unpleasant for others as well! Any specific advice, KLM? (My experience: give them something to swallow, if they are too small to understand instructions to yawn and swallow. And be patient – if they cry they will create the conditions for opening up their Eustachian tube, and the pressure will equalize.) Also remember they have more trouble than grownups in clearing the Eustachian tube; their heads being less developed, he Eustachian tube is less vertical than grownups’, therefore drains less well.

    Also for all: staying hydrated makes dealing with the ear pain easier, especially if you have a cold, as the mucus and phlegm will be a lot less viscous.

    I will be glad to be corrected by better informed experts.

  39. Catherine

    I use paracetamol, hay fever tablets which I take an hour before descent and I have a 750ml bottle of water which I sip on the way down. Works every time :)

  40. Joseph B. Cassidy, III

    Although most of the information on this article I already knew, it was still good to see it once again, to review. You mentioned a few tidbits that I had not known before, but logically makes perfect sense.
    I have experienced this painful condition once, and now take additional precautions to make sure that I don’t have to endure this painful condition once again. I try to stay healthy as much as possible, but when I have to travel, and a cold suddenly creeps up, it does create challenges for me. But as they say, past experience is the best teacher, and I use many of the treatments mentioned here, to minimize the effects as much as possible.
    The one thing one should never do, is to not do anything, and hope it goes away. Use common sense, and do what you can. I have never had to cancel travel plans due to a cold. But it may become a possibility at some point. You don’t want to lose money, but suffering absolute discomfort is no fun either.
    Again, common sense is key.

  41. Elsa

    I have lots of problems with my ears including regular infections in both ears..If I put ‘Earplanes’ into my ears BEFORE the cabin door is closed on every flight..I did this last year when we had 11 flights in 18 days..Some flights long haul.
    I buy the smaller Earplanes as the regular ones are uncomfortable in my ears.

    • Lisa

      I find the smaller earphones work better too

  42. wivinne

    I remember back in 2013 during my flight from Amsterdam to Glasgow I had this problem, my ear ached badly and it’s was very annoying cause I didn’t know what to do. I had to endure the pain until my arrival to Glasgow and I say it was the worst flight experience I have ever encounter, so thank you much KLM for the tips of how to try to solve this problem. I’ll keep the tips in mind if the ear pain occur again to me during a flight.

  43. Warren Clement

    If you were taking off in an unpressurized airplane the atmospheric pressure would decrease as the airplane gained altitude. If you continued to climb through 10K feet the amount of oxygen in the air would decrease to the point that you might pass out from oxygen depravation.
    When you fly in a pressurized aircraft, most airlines use pressurized airplanes, there is an automatic system that tries to keep the cabin pressure close to what it would be on the ground. This allows the airplane to fly at very high altitudes without the danger of experiencing oxygen depravation.
    The problems caused by this system will vary from airplane to airplane and also by rapid changes in altitude. Airlines try very hard to maintain rates of descent to managable levels for the pressurization system to keep up, that’s not always possible and if you have a cold or ear congestion you will have some negative reactions.
    The advise in this column is very good and stresses that there is no simple solution that works for all people.

  44. Ben

    Mooi ! Maar is er ook iemand die me kan zeggen wat een aanval van de ziekte van Ménière met bovenstaande te maken heeft ?
    Dus een aanval van Ménière krijgen enkele uren na landing , vlucht van 10 uur ??

    • Didi Aaftink

      Beste Ben, dank voor je reactie. Ik ken het verband niet tussen vliegen en een aanval van de ziekte van Meniere. ik kan mij wel voorstellen dat “vliegen” een dergelijke aanval kan triggeren. Bij frequent vliegen en daarbij aanvallen na landing kan het een optie zijn dit eens te laten onderzoeken bij een specialist. (KNO arts). Wellicht helpt het om de tips & tricks te volgen uit het blog om een trigger te voorkomen?

  45. caroline

    Wat voor baby’s ook goed werkt is borstvoeding tijdens het klimmen en dalen.

  46. Marisa

    Useful article!!! thank you KLM for looking after your passengers!!

  47. Tom

    Je hebt het steeds over Inner Ear: de druk in het Inner Ear en dat de buis van eustachius van het Inner Ear naar teh back of the nose loopt. mAar day moet zijn Middle Ear ipv Inne Ear.
    Verder is het advies bij de oordoppen (earplanes)om deze in ieder geval bij het dalen in te doen en dan minimaal een half uur van te voren

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  49. Ian

    Thank you for this informative blog.

    Having been involved for over 5 years now in the development of a new product to help improve passenger comfort in relation to in-flight ear pain, I found this article (along with the comments) of great interest.

    The subject of otic barotrauma became of interest to me becase of the discomfort experienced by my children, who have both been frequent flyers even before they could walk.

    Ear pain during flight is by far the most common condition that negatively effects passengers during commercial air travel and it’s extremely encouraging to see an airline providing both background & guidance on the subject.

    I’ll be sure to have the new products’ distributor look up KLM when it’s launched later this year.

    Best regards.

  50. Gaffystone

    This article is helpful,
    I recently felt the pains in my ears recently and now i know why !

    Thanks guys!

  51. Ewout Honig

    Why not address one of the major factors in all this: the RATE of descent? On a flight from London to Amsterdam, you are very likely to suffer(!!) ear pain (I’ve had it last for a week!) because the plane literally falls from the sky with a very high vertical speed. There is no way you can ‘swallow, yawn or pinch your nose’ enough to counter that. Result: A LOT of pain.

    On flights to the US, Curaçao or Canada however, I noticed that the descent is much slower and causes only minor problems with the ears, easily solved by using the techniques mentioned in this blog.

    Now I don’t know why some flights ‘need’ a very fast descent while others are far more gentle. Without a doubt this has to do with weather conditions, traffic density and what not. But in the interest of your customers, this SHOULD be something KLM and all the other airlines pay attention to.

  52. N. De lang

    Mijn oren piepen, en mijn druk in mijn hoofd is onhoudbaar, een dag blijf ik een doof gevoel houden in oren, en wordt ook meestal ziek daarna, verkouden etc wat is daaraan te doen? Kauwgum etc, niets helpt, kopjes met warme crompessen helpt ook niet. Het weerhoud mij om te gaan vliegen.

  53. janet witty

    I’m curious about. the don’t sleep part. The only times I have never suffered major agony, is asleep.
    I have woken as we touched down, not a painful ear at all.
    yawning and sleeping are the only 2 things that help me.
    Exploding painful ears are usually in. order.
    Excellent article, thank you.

  54. Rachel Quinn

    I’ve had Eustachian Tube Dysfunction for the past 11 years; essentially making flying agonizing for one of my ears and it’s taken 5 ENT specialists, my own research and trials and errors to find a way to make flying more bearable. The following works for me personally, of course everyone is different and I am in no way a doctor, but here’s what helps me. I firstly take decongestant nasal spray, extra strength pain killers and extra strength sinus decongestant tablets a few hours before my flight and I have to wear an earplane earplug in my affected ear. I also have to chew gum from the moment the plane taxis out until it lands. I also top up these medications as needed during the flight; I find this combination helps a lot and hopefully is something to look into if you suffer from severe ear pain like me,

    • Jean Breakey

      Thanks Rachel. Have had ETD just over a year now. Last pressure tests show I’m almost within normal limits, and doc says I can fly, but I’m not confident and am trusting my instinct. Air still trying to escape from eye corner instead of going into eustachian tube when I try valsalva! Have always suffered to some extent, including two occasions of perforated eardrum. Will definitely try your advice when I feel ready to fly. Fingers crossed!

  55. Simon Ludlow

    The best nasal decongestant for this is Otrivin. It’s what we used in the British Air Force, and as an airline pilot, I still use – but only when really necessary. Some airlines carry it in their first aid packs. If you have problems – ask the cabin crew.

    But the best way to ease barotrauma is to chew Airwaves menthol chewing gum. The menthol opens the eustacheon tubes or sinuses and the chewing exercise the tubes. I always carry some and have to replenish my stocks regularly – as I frequently hand to to the cabin crew who give them to passengers with problems.

    Ignore the advice about ear plugs and cups. It’s more likely to perforate an eardrum than help.

  56. An Verboom

    Sinds enkele jaren laat ik buisjes plaatsen door de KNO arts. Is een dure oplossing, maar werkt perfect. Mijn trommelvlies zit vol littekens, omdat volgens hem bij iedere landing er kleine scheurtjes in kwamen. Dat verklaart in ieder geval de helse pijnen die ik had. Maar tegenwoordig vlieg ik dus zonder zorgen dankzij de buisjes.

  57. Quincy

    Curacao , Willemstad

    Thanks fo the tip KLM.
    I never flew KLM before but I’m plning to do it this month.
    I feel the same problem while flying .
    But in the TUI Dreamliner I did not feel that . WHY ?
    that’s why I sad , I will only fly 787 and planes that have a good air pressure , if I’m wrong , just correct me .
    One question guys ,
    When you guys flew in the KLM 747 did you guys had the ear problems during flight ?
    please let me know ?

  58. Wilma

    Hi,
    Can I do anything else, is there some remedy to lower sinusitis before going on a flight?
    Thanks

  59. Iris

    I suffer BADLY with ear ache when im flying. I have found that getting 4 plastic cups and hot tissue/napkins inside 2 cups and place on each ear before plane starts to lower its flight. That way I manage to keep the same pressure and noooo pain. Might look stupid but trust me anything to prevent the pain

  60. SLP

    The middle ear is where the pressure is building up not the inner ear as stated. The diagram even illustrates this fact.

  61. Bev

    I now have my ears syringed before flying. Previously flights had left me with blocked ears for the duration of my holiday (and longer), constant ‘tapping’ in one ear during one flight and various other minor but irritating problems. Having them syringed about a week before I fly has stopped these problems.

  62. Lia Wensink

    This week we flew from Rome and I was wondering why there is so little information about this widely occurring phenomenon. My first flight was in 1993 on my honeymoon and I suffered from earache for the first three days! Since then I keep yawning during takeoff, but never before have I read this info. So Thank you and it should offcourse be standard info in the Seat in front of you!

  63. Amanda Doherty

    I’ve got a constant pressure imbalance in both ears so have pain both on take off and descent. Descent is always excruciatingly painful I just can’t cope with it! Nothing works.

  64. Pauline Giddings

    In the U.K., I use an Otovent, to help equalise the pressure, by blowing up a balloon with the nose, available in good pharmacies, suggested by a senior ENT consultant. I am a Senior ENT Theatre Practitioner.

  65. Asian Rey

    Mine starts at the head. After awhile the presure travels through my mouth and causing tooth ache. After suffering the flight, i saw myself on the mirror and saw a random hole which is painful.Pls help me on how to prevent this annoying situtation.

  66. Anika javed

    Welldone ! U elaborated it in simple and precise way

  67. Douglas

    Its good to use earplugs? Can I wait after take off, when my ears are already adapted (cruise mode) and then put ear plugs? Would that be a problem? Cause silence is good. I vaguely remember once doing that and having a lot of pain in my ear later,, but I’m not sure its because of the earplugs.

  68. Joe

    My ear is ‘95%’ blocked and I am flying from kochi (s. India) to UAE and then from there to England in 2 days time, I know it is unadvisable to fly with a blocked ear but I cannot postpone my flight. As it is Independence Day in India tomorrow seeing a doctor will both be difficult and expensive, will my ear be okay for the flight?

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