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What is Airplane Ear?

The ear is among the most sensitive parts of the body. The eardrum, in particular, is very vulnerable to perforation, rupture, infection or any other complication since it is only made up of a thin membrane that separates the outer and middle sections of the ear.

Eardrum perforation usually occurs when a sharp foreign object is pushed deep inside the ears; this is particularly common among children. A ruptured eardrum can also result from loud or sudden noises. Trauma and bacterial infection are also two of the common causes of eardrum damage. As a result, there can be loss of hearing.

One can also experience loss of hearing and damage to the eardrum during flight on an airplane. When the aircraft ascends or descends, a rapid change in air pressure will occur. This sudden pressure change can cause imbalance between the external air pressure and the air pressure inside the ear, resulting in slight discomfort in the ear as well as muffled hearing. This condition is known as airplane ear.

The air pressure in our ears is regulated by the eustachian tube; one end is situated near the throat while the other end is in the middle ear. When the eustachian tube does not respond quickly the air pressure change, this will result in airplane ear.

Yawning or swallowing eliminates the symptoms of airplane ear by activating the muscles that control the balance in air pressure.

The symptoms of airplane ear are also similar to those experienced when scuba diving, riding an elevator to go to the higher floors of a tall building or going up a high-altitude mountain.




I´m 61 years old and lost my hearing gradually over many years. Because my hearing loss developed so slowly, I never realized it was happening. But my friends and family sure did. Because of them, I decided to get my hearing tested. Dr. Andrews keeps working with you until you are satisfied. That´s what I like. I haven´t heard this well in years. ~ R. McGreggor