We’ve previously spoken about the precautions that should be made when you’re on your summer holidays. From maintaining and using your hearing aid abroad, to ear protection when swimming. But what about when travelling to your holiday destination?

Ear discomfort is an annoying side-effect of flying. Pressure, popping and pain are all common irritations when up in the sky, but it can also lead to severe pain and in some circumstances, hearing loss.

Why does hearing loss when flying occur?

It’s a conundrum for many of us once we’re up in the air: why is this happening to my ears? Well, it’s all about air pressure. Normally the air pressure inside and outside of the ear is around the same. The problem only occurs when the change in altitude is fast, as you would expect on a plane. The ears don’t have time to equalise like they would if you were, for example, taking a slow climb up a mountain.

When ascending, the air pressure in the ear is higher than that outside and the eardrum reacts by swelling outwards. The eardrum cannot vibrate with this swelling so that’s what causes the muffled hearing.

To stop the feeling of fullness in the ears, passengers need to get as much air as possible through the Eustachian tube.

Tips to prevent hearing problems when flying

Suck on sweets or gum

Your mum isn’t kidding when she passes sweets down the aisle. They actually help. By chewing gum and sucking on a boiled sweet, you stimulate swallowing. Swallowing helps to equalise air pressure.

Valsalva manoeuvre

Popping the ears with the Valsalva manoeuvre is effective. Gently blow while pinching the nose and keeping your mouth closed. Repeat several times until the pressure has equalised.


Decongestant nasal spray helps to open the Eustachian tube if the nose is blocked. This is done as more air is able to make its way to the tube.

Avoid sleep during ascent and descent

You can only manage the problem if you’re awake!

Leicestershire Hearing Centre

If you have had long-lasting problems as a result of flying or suffer from hearing loss and need advice for an upcoming holiday, get in touch with The Hearing Centre today on 0116 254 3909.