Why Do Your Ears Pop on an Airplane?. By Brittany T. Introduction.
By Brittany T.
During ascend and descend there is a rapid change in air pressure. The middle ear is what causes discomfort during air travel because it is extremely sensitive to changes in air pressure. Normally, when you swallow, your ears make a pop because a small bubble has entered your middle ear your nose. It then passes through the Eustachian tube, a membrane-lined tube about the size of a pencil lead that connects the back of the nose with the middle ear. But since the air pressure is changing your middle ear is also experiencing changes in air pressure. To maintain comfort, the Eustachian tube must open frequently and wide enough to equalize the changes in air pressure. This is why some people chew gum, yawn, or suck on candy during air travel. All of these acts open the Eustachian tube to let the air bubble out and reduce the pain.
It seems so simple to just open your mouth, right? Well, what if you had a cold or sinus infection? Not so simple then, huh?
Your sinuses are connected to your ears by the Eustachian tube, and if your sinuses are infected then that makes your ears even more vulnerable. For children, babies, or infants, the pain is more severe because their Eustachian tube is much smaller than teenagers or adults. Also they cannot intentionally pop their ears. To help, you might be able to give them a bottle or pacifier to suck on, or some cheerios to chew. This will allow them to open their Eustachian tube just like adults.
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