Airplane Ear

Airplane Ear

Airplane ear also known as ear barotrauma is a condition which occurs when there is stress on the eardrum occur because of out of balance of pressure between middle ear cleft and environment. Mostly experienced during taking off or landing of airplane.


It can occur unilaterally or bilaterally. Common presentation includesAcoustic Neuroma

  • Moderate pain and feeling of discomfort in the ear.
  • Sensation of fullness in the ear.
  • Some hearing loss.

If this condition become severe it may present as;

  • Intense pain.
  • Some or intense hearing loss.
  • Feeling of spinning
  • Ringing sensation in the ear
  • Blood comes out of ear.

It commonly occur when pressure in the middle ear cleft and environment become out of balance. There is tube in the nasopharynx known as Eustachian tube which helps to regulate the pressure at tympanic membrane. This condition can also result after scuba diving, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, after loud explosions, diving in mountain and in the elevator of long building.


Airplane ear usually don’t progress to serious complication but sometimes permanent deafness and chronic tinnitus can occur.


This condition is diagnosed by detailed history of patient and examination of ear by otoscope which is lighted instrument for examination of ear.

  • Airplane ear usually relieve on its own. But sometimes medication is prescribed like analgesics, painkillers. However, nasal spray decongestants and oral decongestants can ease the condition.
  • Self-care therapies like Valsalva maneuver is considered to ease the condition effectively.
  • Rarely surgical treatments become necessary.
Home remedies
  • When airplane descend or ascend try to swallow or yawn to prevent pressure imbalance.
  • Avoid sleeping during taking off period of airplane.
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