Due to sudden changes in air pressure such as when an airplane lifts or lands your ears may develop a stuffed feeling. The pressure in the ears is kept normal by the Eustachian tubes, which are the connecting tubes between the ears and the throat. Yet sometimes, there is so much change in pressure that it becomes too much to handle by the Eustachian tubes. Individuals suffering from allergies or colds are more prone to develop clogged ears.

How to Unpop Ears after Flight

Step 1: Swallow or yawn repeatedly. The two actions need to be alternated until your ears have unpopped. The Eustachian tube muscles are being exercised by these moves.

Step 2: Chew gum. If you are not able to unpop your ears by yawning, then chewing gum or even mimicking the act can do the trick. This equalizes the pressure between the outside and inside of the ear.

Step 3: Suck on lozenges or hard candies. Don’t eat it, just suck a lozenge or hard candy can equalize the pressure.

Step 4: Drink a large glass of water. Take a large glass of water, tilt your head backwards and drink the water in large gulps to equalize the pressure.

Step 5: Do the Valsalva maneuver. Close your mouth, pinch your nose and attempt to exhale via your nose gently. This should unpop your ears, and equalize the pressure. Be extremely gentle while performing the Valsalva maneuver.

How to Prevent Clogged Ears During Flight

After discussing the answer to the question how to unpop ears after flight, let us discuss how to prevent clogged ears during flight.

  • Swallow and yawn during descent and ascent of airplane. You can also chew gum or suck on a candy to help you swallow.

  • Perform the Valsalva maneuver during descent and ascent. Repeat it several times, especially while descending to equalize the pressure.

  • Avoid traveling when you are suffering from a sinus infection, cold, ear infection or nasal congestion and reconsider your travel plans. If you have had a recent ear surgery, discuss with your physician about when you can travel safely.

  • Use filtered earplugs. The pressure is slowly equalized against your eardrums during descents and ascents by using these earplugs. You can purchase them from drugstores, your local hearing clinic or airport gift shops.

  • Avoid sleeping during landings and takeoffs. If you are awake during descents and ascents you can take the necessary steps to prevent clogged ears and do not have to know how to unpop ears after flight.

  • Use an OTC decongestant nasal spray. If you suffer from nasal congestion, you can use a decongestant nasal spray around 30 minutes to an hour before landing and takeoff. However, avoid overuse because decongestant nasal sprays taken for several days can aggravate congestion.

  • Take caution in using oral decongestant pills. These pills are helpful if they are taken 30 minutes to an hour before a flight. However, if you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure or disorder of heart rhythm or if you have developed previous side effects, avoid taking them unless approved by your physician. A pregnant female should discuss with her physician before taking an oral decongestant. A male older than 50 years of age can develop serious adverse effects after taking oral decongestants containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Actifed), such as retention of urine, especially if they have an enlarged prostate gland.

  • Take medicine for allergy. If you suffer from allergies, take your medicine around an hour before flight.


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