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Aeroplane Ear: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Nov 28, 2023

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Causes Of Aeroplane Ear

Symptoms Of Aeroplane Ear

Risk Factors Of Aeroplane Ear

Diagnosis Of Aeroplane Ear

Treatment Of Aeroplane Ear


Self-maintenance plans


Prevention Of Aeroplane Ear

Complications Of Aeroplane Ear

Aeroplane Ear Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

"Aeroplane ear" or "ear barotrauma" refers to the stress on your eardrum caused by an imbalance between the air pressure in your middle ear and the surrounding air pressure. You may have an aeroplane ear when an aircraft is ascending after takeoff or falling after landing.

Aerotitis media, barotrauma of the ear, and aerotitis media are other names for aeroplane ear.

In most cases, self-care methods such as chewing gum, yawning, and swallowing help counterbalance the fluctuations in air pressure and lessen the symptoms of aircraft ear discomfort. But you might need to see a doctor if your aircraft ear is truly terrible.

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Causes Of Aeroplane Ear

Aeroplane ear is caused by a divergence of the air pressure in the middle ear and the surrounding environment, which prevents the tympanic membrane (eardrum) from vibrating properly. The eustachian tube, a small duct that attaches to the middle ear, regulates air pressure.

When an aeroplane climbs or descends, the air pressure changes quickly. The incapacity of the eustachian tube to respond rapidly enough is the main cause of the symptoms associated with aircraft ear. 

The eustachian tube, which opens when you yawn or swallow, allows the middle ear to receive more air, restoring normal air pressure. Furthermore, ear barotrauma can be caused by:

  • Going Scuba Diving
  • Hyperbaric oxygen chambers
  • Explosives that are close by, such as those in a battle zone
  • Using a lift may result in a mild form of barotrauma.

Also Read: Perforated Eardrum: Functions, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Symptoms Of Aeroplane Ear

You can get aeroplane ear in one or both ears. Common signs and manifestations consist of:

  • You're experiencing a slight ear pain.
  • Hearing loss ranging from slight to major feeling as though your ears are full or clogged

Should you suffer from severe aircraft ear, you could:

  • An increase in ear pressure
  • Severe pain
  • Deafness, from mild to severe
  • The sensation of whirling in your ears is called vertigo
  • Tinnitus.
  • Gushing blood from your ear

Also Read: Fungal Sinusitis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Risk Factors Of Aeroplane Ear

Aeroplane ear may be more common in cases of disease that narrows or obstructs the eustachian tube. Typical risk factors include:

  • A small Eustachian tube, especially in premature infants
  • The common cold
  • Allergy rhinitis, or sinus infection A middle ear infection known as otitis media caused by hay fever
  • As a result of not actively yawning or swallowing to counteract the pressure in your ears, you can fall asleep on an airliner during takeoff and landing.

Also Read: Tonsillitis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Diagnosis Of Aeroplane Ear

Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose you based on your medical history and an examination of your ear with lighted equipment (otoscope).

Treatment Of Aeroplane Ear

For most people, the aeroplane ear usually fades away with time. If they persist, you could need therapy to relieve pressure points and ease discomfort.


Your doctor might suggest that you take:

  • Nose decongestant sprays
  • To ease pain, you can take an analgesic pain reliever such as acetaminophen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium.

Self-maintenance plans

Your doctor will recommend the Valsalva technique as part of your prescription schedule. To do this, close your mouth, tense your nose, and gently blow air into the back of your nose as if you were actually blowing it.


For aeroplane ear, surgical intervention is rarely necessary. Even really severe wounds, including tears in the eardrum or membranes inside the ears, usually heal on their own.

Nevertheless, a surgical procedure or doctor's visit might not always be necessary. This might entail a myringotomy, a procedure in which your eardrum is cut in order to release fluid and level the pressure in your ears.

Also Read: Laryngeal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Prevention Of Aeroplane Ear

To avoid aircraft ear, follow these recommendations:

  • Yawn and swallow as you ascend and descend: They cause your eustachian tubes' opening muscles to contract. As a sucking help while swallowing, chewing gum or candies might be utilised.
  • When ascending or descending, use the Valsalva technique: As though you were blowing out your nose, pinch your nostrils and keep your lips pressed together. Repeat a few times, especially during descent, to balance the pressure between your ears and the airliner cabin.
  • Refrain from falling asleep when taking off or landing: If you're conscious when you feel pressure in your ears during ascents and descents, you can perform the necessary self-care actions.
  • Plan a different route for your vacation: If your sinuses, ears, or nasal passages are congested, stay away from flying. If you've undergone recent ear surgery, ask your doctor when it's safe to fly.
  • Using an over-the-counter nasal spray, administer it: If your nose is congested, use a nasal spray 30 to 60 minutes before taking off and landing. However, use caution using nasal sprays more than three or four days in a row has the potential to exacerbate cough.
  • Constrictive medicines should be taken carefully: Oral decongestants may be helpful if taken 30 to 60 minutes before flying. Nonetheless, if you have high blood pressure, heart illness, irregular heartbeat, or are pregnant, avoid using oral decongestants.
  • Use an allergy medication: In case you have any allergies, take your medication around an hour before departure.
  • Use filtered earplugs: These earplugs progressively balance the force applied to your eardrum throughout ascents and descents. Airport gift stores, pharmacies, and hearing clinics have these. To relieve pressure, you will still need to swallow and yawn.
  • Suppose you usually fly or are at risk of developing severe aeroplane ear. In that case, your doctor may perform a surgical procedure to surgically implant tubes in your eardrums to allow for fluid drainage, ventilate your middle ear, and equalise the pressure inside your outer and middle ears.

Complications Of Aeroplane Ear

Aeroplane ear is usually not dangerous and it can easily treated at home. Injuries to the middle or inner ear structures or chronic, acute illnesses rarely cause long-term issues.

Among the uncommon side effects are:

  • A lifetime loss of hearing
  • Persistent and ongoing tinnitus

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