Traveling Problems: When Ears Won’t Pop

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We have all heard the babies who cry upon descent when their ears start hurting on the airplane.  It can happen on take-off too, but the descent is often the roughest part.  In fact, having a baby with ears that hurt during the flight is one of the number one concerns of many traveling families.  That is why it is highly recommended to have the baby drinking from a bottle, from a sippy cup, nursing, etc on both takeoff and landing.  The sucking can help with getting their ears to pop.  If your little one has a cold or other sinus issues, then the risk of ear problems while traveling greatly increases.

However, this time it was thankfully not my kiddo who had ear problems on the flight, it was me.  As you may know, Little C and I traveled to Disneyland last weekend, which I plan to start writing about very soon.  You may also have noticed me mention in some of my recent posts that I was sick before we went on the trip, was sick on the trip, and have continued to be sick since we got home.  My kiddo blessed me with bringing home some upper-respiratory crud from daycare last week, and it just isn’t going away quickly.  I hate being sick, hate going to doctors, hate medicine, etc, so I just do my best to pretend I am not sick (like moms really have any other alternative), and continue on with life.  That was all well and good until we were landing back in Texas after our time in California.

On descent the pressure in my ears got super intense.  I totally wanted to be one of those crying babies because it seriously hurt and just kept getting worse and worse.  Of course, I couldn’t really focus on that too much since I had to attend to my own little one, but it was not fun at all.  Once we landed, I kept trying to get my ears to pop, but they wouldn’t.  I figured I would reluctantly take some medicine for my respiratory issues that night and by the next morning all would be fine.  Wrong.

Fast forward four days to today, and my ears still have not popped.  They still have pressure and fluid and are driving me bananas.  So, I ended up at the ear, nose, and throat specialist today to have them looked at.  Please tell me I am not the only one who has gone to a doctor because their ears haven’t popped four days after flying?!  He confirmed there was fluid behind both ears, and he tried to get them to pop by blowing/sucking air with this syringe type thing.  He also watched my ears as I pinched my nose and blew.  No luck with either attempt.  He confirmed with a hearing test that my hearing is diminished in one ear right now due to the fluid.  Gee, I could have told him that.  😉

One of the main reasons I went in is because I have a flight again early next week and wanted to make sure that I’m not going to cause further damage while flying with my ears still having trouble from the last flight.  The doctor said that it will probably really hurt again, but that the risk of damage is incredibly low, especially since my ears are not fully blocked with fluid.  I know, this sounds super gross.  I was given a prescription for antibiotics, steroids, and other junk I don’t want to take, and was told to come back in a month.  A month.  This better not be going on in a month!  He also said to take Sudafed and Afrin right before my next flight. 

I share this story for two reasons.  First, it is an issue that traveling families are likely to face at some point.  With little ones in daycare, someone is seemingly always sick when it is time to travel.  Eventually that will likely mean fluid and ear issues while flying for someone in the family.  So, at least you know now what my experience has been like.  These issues really can go on for days, and while doctors can look at your ears, they don’t seem to have a magic cure either.  Second, I would love to hear others’ stories about ear problems and flying.  I know there are about a million home remedies out there for this sort of issue, but I would love to hear what has worked for you or your kiddos.  Oh please Lord, let me ears pop soon!

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  1. My left ear still hasn’t popped from Monday’s BRU-YUL-LGA-SAV.

    I’m grounded and will send positive joo joo that your ears pop. —->(ear) (POP)

  2. I find that having a warm or hot wash cloth on the ear thats clogged while the plane is landing helps. Also, you should give ear planes a try, they really help me when I travel with a cold. Sorry you have the problem,I perforated and eardrum on takeoff flying from HKG-SFO a long time ago, it made for a long flight.

  3. Easy steps: chew gum + drink lots of fluids.

    The rest depends to on Doctor’s finding (e.g. flu, sinus infection, middle ear infection). Lacking that diagnosis, the following is merely food for thought.

    Home remedies to consider: sleep with head slightly elevated, inhale steam through nasal passages.

    Meds: Mucinex-D will drain your sinuses. Nasonex will reduce inflammation of sinus tissue. If you only have a blocked eustachian tube, that may be enough.

    If you have a bacterial infection, then consider antibiotics. Steroids have side effects to consider. As with all treatments, read the instructions (especially for Afrin).

    Disclaimer: I may sound like a medical professional, but I’m not. Hope you feel better soon.

  4. I’ve been to the ear nose and throat hospital upon landing from the pressure. Recently, I’ve been sick for about 3 weeks now. Still on a plane every week. I ALWAYS carry sudafed. When I fly and I have any chance now of having ear problems, I premedicate with sudafed. It’s probably kept me out of a few hospitals. I hate taking it, I hate going to the hospital more. I feel so bad for kids who fly when they are sick. My guess is there have been more than a few ruptured eardrums that parents aren’t even aware of.

  5. Hi MommyPoints,

    I love traveling (obviously why I’m here, and that means flying a lot). Unfortunately, I’ve often experienced the excruciating pain from the pressure especially during descent. Where others feel only discomfort or popping noises, I feel pain. Not all the time, but probably 80-90% when I fly.

    I had gone to a ENT specialist once after a flight (like you), but not much can be done. I went to my regular doctor who had once prescribed me some fluid-inhaler like thing to take (to clear the nasal path) before flights. That doesn’t seemed to work for me.

    What’s worked for me *most* of the time is a earplug like product called EarPlanes, which helps your ear adjust to the in-cabin pressurization. Of course, it’s not going to be as helpful until your ears pop, but it’s a precaution I always take because the pain otherwise can be almost unbearable.

  6. What works really well for me is ear wax removal fluid even though I don’t have wax build up in my ears. I usually start dosing my ears a couple days before flying then put a few drops in about an hour before take off. The solvent really does a good job as it fizzes down your ear canal and seems to open things up. I started doing this after 2 or 3 flights where my ears uncharacteristically were getting plugged up.

  7. So sorry to hear that you are still suffering from this. Sending white light your way for your speedy ear pops! Wish I had a home remedy (I normally swallow hard deliberately when that happens).

  8. I know, right? I picked up a cold in England over the weekend, and flying MAN-LHR-ORD was absolute torture. MAN-LHR wasn’t so bad because the plane didn’t go all the way up to maximum altitude, but descent from 36000 ft on approach to ORD made me grip the sides of my seat in despair because the pain was so bad.

    I think this has something to do with clogged or infected sinuses. Flew SIN-PER 10 years back with a cold, same problem. Took about 6-8 days to clear IIRC. When the sinuses can’t drain the fluid I would assume that the ear canals, being somewhat connected to the sinuses, would end up being unable to drain too. Google the locations of sinuses on your face – if they feel sore when you give them a gentle rub, the soreness suggests an inflammation i.e. fluid will not drain easily through them.

    My only suggestion would be to take some anti-inflammation, anti-flu or decongestant meds… just that once the effect of the meds wears off the clogging might return.

  9. No advice for after the fact, but after perforating an ear drum 10 years ago while flying with the beginning of a sinus infection, at a doctor’s advice I also always carry Sutafed (the original, not the PE) with me and take if I’m the least bit congested. I don’t like taking medicine, but I also didn’t like the pain that came along with the injured ear drum and the loss of hearing that lasted for a couple of months.

    If the cold is really bad, and I still must travel, I’ve also been known to use Afrin (again at a doctor’s recommendation and only for a very limited period of time).

    Since using these preventative measures, I’ve had a decade of frequent flying without a repeat incident.

  10. I cast another vote for EarPlanes

    EarPlane Air Pressure Regulating Ear Plugs- Adult and Children sizes

    and for sucking hard ourselves on flights descending. I suck on one of those sports water bottles and, while I had great problems with ears before, now have minimized them considerably.

  11. having similar ear problems with takeoff and landing on transpac flight. pain in the ear and the audible weeee sound is painful until a day or so after I landed.

    suggest NOT clearing your ear wax a week or so before takeoff/landing…this prevents liquids from accumulating in your ears.

    now…open your jaws very wide and see if that helps.

  12. Yikes, that sounds awful! A guy I know was suffering terribly during one flight when the flight attendant gave him two cups with pencils sticking through each one. She told him to hold them to his ears. He reported that it worked instantly. I keep wondering if she did it for a laugh…

    Anyway, we use earplanes.

    I like the wax removal idea too. I’m not sure how it would help, but I can definitely imagine the fizzing doing something useful in there.

    • Your out ear canal has nothing to do with your eustacian tubes not equalizing pressure. Your Etubes are separated by your ear drum and that keeps bacteria from your ear canal from getting into your eustacian tubes. When you pinch your nose and blow, your unplugging your Etubes, again this has nothing to do with your ear canal. You can clean out your ear canal all you want; it will not help equalize pressure in your eustacian tubes. I have eustacian tube dysfunction 24/7 and have had it for 7 months now. One day my etube collapsed and stopped equalizing pressure; I’m guessing due to allergies or TMJ possibly, it’s hard to diagnose. Anyway, no fluid build up, my ears just don’t pop quickly enough when I travel anywhere including a ride down in an elevator. By the time I hit the 4 floor going down, it slams shut and I have wiggle my jaw around to get it to pop.. Flying is easier for me than driving since driving your constantly going up and down. Flying is just up once and down. Anyway, next month I’m having my eustacian tubes dilitated with a balloon catheter to stretch out my tube so it works better. Good luck to you all

        • Hi there,, just came upon this thread by accident and forgot I even posted anything. Yes, I had the dilation fine in March 8th and the procedure itself dues not hurt at all, however you will feel sort of stretched out after but it didn’t hurt. I went to disnryland actually the next day and drive home through the mountains after that and my ear pooped all the way home and all by itself but it’s assumed that was because I just had the dilation done so I was opened enough to get home without clogging. Well I’m back to the way I was before but even worse now. Same symptoms as before the procedure but now I vlog up even easier than before. I can’t even drive anywhere without them clogging shit. I’m not clogged now, but they always feel blocked and every time I swallow now they make a sticking type Velcro pulling apart sound that was never there before.. I’ve spoken to the surgeon and he simply said, sorry it must not have worked. Do ear still hurts everyday, never much relief, it clogs shut as soon as I get in my car and drive up or down a tiny hill and it won’t unclog until I get home and wiggle my jaw around. I can’t even go over an over pass without pain. It truly sucks. I’m sure the procedure affected the muscles that open the tube. I’m almost positive if that cause I wasn’t this bad before. Now I just suffer daily with this sticking hear problem every time I swallow which isn’t the worst, it would have been worth it if I could travel without pain. I don’t want to discourage others from the procedure, but I suggest not having it if your only problem is traveling. I had more issues than that so thought it would work but I could pop my ear before the procedure so I’m thinking only have it done if you can’t ever pop your ear. I’m using a new saline rinse with meds in it and sprays and decongestants only once in awhile.. But still nothing fixes this pain in in. I honestly wish I never had it done. I would say try everything else out first before doing the dilation.. Only in extreme cases should it be done. I’m looking into getting a tube now which I know I will hate cause I hated having a myringotomy, but alas what choice do I have? It was loud and I felt clogged and it sucked cause everything sounded like it was in my ear but what choice do I have. I hate clogging every time I get in my car and not being able to travel sucks. Good luck to you all. I pray everyday that all that suffer this miserable condition will be healed.

          • Thank you, I appreciate you sharing. Yes, my ears pop constantly , even if I’m not in a high altitude. I’m afraid to fly. I traveled to the mountains this weekend and it wasn’t too bad. A lot of popping even though others said their ears weren’t. I guess I’m just super sensitive to altitude change. I know when storm is coming too. The air pressure changes affect me too.
            Best of luck to you and I hope you can get rid of the pain at least even if you have to live with popping, noisy ears. I think over time one can become accustomed to that unfortunately.

  13. This is right up my alley. It happens almost every cold. You’re in luck though, considering the next flight is so soon. Upon ascent, that’s the key moment to get them to un-pop – the decrease in air pressure is your magic opportunity to do your best Valsalva maneuver and jaw movements to open the eustachian tubes. The doc is spot on with the oxymetasomething (afrin) and psuedoephedrine – get the generics for both and don’t get the 24 hour versions. Also, earplanes just before descent.

    • I just had the same experience traveling to Miami from St Louis with a cold. My ears stayed plugged the entire 10 days in Miami. But upon the return flight they popped open and stayed open thank goodness I wonder if it had something to do with Miami being on sea level and I’m used to being at about 1000 feet above sea level.

  14. have your ent prescribe your some Rhinocort AQ (nasal steroid)

    also take 60 mg Sudafed every 4-6 hours (the real pseudoephedrine hcl – non prescription product you must show your id to the pharmacist behind the counter). Be careful there is a new formulation that is also OTC but not behind the pharmacist but it not as good.

  15. I had a similar problem 10 years ago.

    After a week, I found on google a description of how divers equalize ear pressure. There are many techniques but each one only works on a fraction of people.

    The valsalva maneuver did it for me.

  16. A chiropractor once told me that kids ears move easier than adults. (Well, really everything on a kid moves easier than on adults, doesn’t it?) So, drinking during take offs and landings usually suffice for them. If you know a good chiropractor, I’d recommend seeing him and having him adjust your ears before your next flight. It has worked wonders for us and our children in the past with stopped up/infected ears. In fact, we avoided tubes in our younger sons ears by going this route instead.

  17. As a personal note, in the 5 years I flew for the US Air Force in the 1970’s, I NEVER had a problem with my ears on hundreds of flights. On commercial flights during that same period, I averaged valsalva problems 40-50% of the time. Never could figure that out. All that being said, I haven’t had that problem in years on commercial flights.

  18. If you live in a state regulating Sudafed be sure you get the kind you have to ask the pharmacist for. The kind with psuedoephedrine as the active ingredient. Take some the night before and the morning of your flight. Don’t shower the morning you fly. (I shower the night before).

  19. During many international flights I have felt like a balloon was being inflated inside my head and pushing my eyeballs out. This lasted for many hours of the flight and was absolute torture. As you are experiencing, the problem can persist for days after flying. I ended up having surgery for my persistent sinus problems, but prior to that. Earplanes and Afrin were a godsend. A nothing word of warning, when you ears do eventually pop, it can be quite dramatic. It will quickly and severely momentarily mess with your equilibrium. The NeilMed sinus rinses do help with this. I would recommend doing it twice a day. Sorry for the long reply.

  20. Thank you all so much for the stories and recommendations. I’m sorry to hear how common of an issue this is, but am glad to have a centralized place for some things to try! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Still clogged up now, but I am planning to try a few things tomorrow.

  21. Sounds too simple but chew gum BEFORE DURING and AFTER takeoff. BEFORE is especially important. Hard for very little ones but essential for adults. And, yes, it can be VERY painful.

  22. Ugh, I went though exactly the same thing in 2006. Not. Fun. My doc did exactly what your doc did, and it worked. I also picked up something called ear planes and they helped (google it). I now do the pinch your nose and blow thing several times as the plane descends as a matter of course just to keep everything wide open. Seems to prevent a complete plug-up. Hang in there!! Check out the ear planes.

  23. Now our kids are past the feeding during take off and landing stage, I put a few lollypops in my carry on for them. Works for two things, a treat to distract them and helps to clear the ears.

  24. I’ve had ear problems ever since a turbulent flight into Russia when I was 16. A doctor suggested I take Benadryl to help clear my ears on flights, and it usually helps if not prevent it altogether.

    Unfortunately, I had to fly home yesterday with the beginnings of a head cold. I thought that it was just a sore throat, but here I am 32 hours later and my ear is still plugged up. I figured it was probably because of my cold, and I’m glad to see that I’m probably right. This will save me an unneeded trip to the doctor!

    • @Sarah, yuck. Sorry to hear that! Hope yours clears up quicker than mine. I am at 11 days and counting. 😉

  25. PLEASE run out to a store that sells earplanes, and use them for your next flight. They are the best things ever to help prevent such hideous things like that from happening to your ear during a flight. I had to take a flight with a lot of fluid behind one eardrum, and the earplanes earplugs DEFINITELY helped, no doubt about it. I speak with confidence, as I won’t fly anymore without them. Normally, my ears are very bad and won’t unpop, etc. but WITH the earplanes, pressure builds up more slowly, AND it is easier to unpop your ears, I find. Without them, I hate how much it hurts! Anyway, when I had the really bad case of fluid behind my eardrum, I wore earplanes and though my ears still crackled and popped, a lot more than usual, the pressure was always such that I could still unpop them. Good luck with your next flight! You can google earplanes to see what they are. You can buy them at well.ca, I know, too.

  26. P.S. I forgot to tell you – if you use earplanes, I highly suggest wearing them for the entire time of the flight, rather than just take off and prior to descending, the reason being, we really don’t know when the pilot begins his descent.

  27. Wow! I love that I found this thread. I thought I was the only one out there that had the SUPER INTENSE pain because whenever I tell anyone they look at me strange.

    Quickly I’ll add a point to those who suggest plugging your nose and blowing to fix or release the pressure. This is not good for the people who feel the agonizing pain like myself. that is the last thing I would do. My ears don’t release at all and I when I even remotely attempt that suggesting the pain goes up 5-10 fold.

    Actually it is so bad sometimes my ear whistles on the descent. Almost like when you let the air out of a balloon really slowly. It’s crazy. I’ve also experienced this pain. I jumped in the pool the next day after landing in Mexico and my ear exploded and all these bubbles came rushing out into the water. It was nuts how loud it sounded to me. I could finally hear people and I didn’t need to shout.

    So, I have figured out over the years that you need a combination of things. I currently chew gum, yawn, take antihistamines, use nasal spray (nasonex and avamys) and cups with the hot rags in them. that last part works the best. So far it has. I think the E tube being so small plus having the moisture from the hot water rags is what allows or helps the whistle sound from my ears. Funny when others look over.

    Well I’m going to try these earplanes. I fly to Ft L Florida tonight. Hopefully it won’t be a painful one!

    Thanks all!

  28. hi momma,
    i am a flight attendant and sometimes i come across these problems with myself and passengers. at the moment i am dealing with an unpopped ear. I am now going to boil garlic skin and slowly sip it. also while i am on a flight and I am secretly in pain during descent..i sip some hot water…sucking a mint helps as well. once i had it really bad and my doctor prescribed ciplox-d .. i had to put a few drops in the ear and lay down for 30 minutes on one side. this helped me and i always recommend it to my co workers when they are recovering.. i hope you feel better and your ears starts popping soon!

  29. I have been stress out this couple of months now and my doctor told me to relax. If I relax my ears will pop and the ringing will be gone. How do I relax? I’m a very stress out person.

  30. Several people say not to use wax removal liquids before flying, even up to 7 days before a flight. Is that all products, or hydrogen peroxide in particular (doc favors that over store-bought remedies). I’m getting over a sinus infection with seemingly no more fluid behind eardrum, but I do have a big plug of wax.

  31. Yeah, I’m experiencing ear popping issues right now. Just got back from a round trip from Minneapolis to Jacksonville, Fla. and back. My ears popped upon landing both times, but they are much worse since I returned to Minneapolis. I did have a cold for about a week while I was in Jacksonville, and I’m just now getting over it, but my left ear is still bothering me. You might say it’s very “earitatting!” (No pun intended!)

  32. I see this is old but I have this issue a lot when flying…I use rubbing alcohol..it usually loosens the fluid and makes my ears pop within a couple hours sometimes repeated use is necessary

  33. I am very lucky. At christmas, when I flew home, my ears started to hurt so bad during decent. I have flown many times before, but this is the first time that it happened. I had a sinus infection and cold so thats probably what did it. When my ears started to hurt I was like “oh my god, oh my GOD, OH MY GOD” I started to freak out because I didnt know if it was normal for them to hurt that BAD. My 16 year old daughter said “Mom, hold squeeze your nose and blow”. I was kind of scared to do it because what if I damaged my ears more and made them hurt even more! My daughter says “it wont, just do it”. So I squeezed my nose and blew hard and omg, it WORKED. Now I know that some of you didnt have that luck but I did THANK GOD. It felt good too because when I squeezed my nose and blew, My ears whislted and I felt the pressure blow right out of my ears. I had to do this a few times through out the decent of the flight but each time I squeezed and blew, it would relieve itself INSTANTLY. I thought that worked for everybody but apparently not after reading this story and now I feel EXTREMELY lucky because it was PAINFUL. When we landed my daughter said “I’m glad it worked for you because if I were you, I’d be to scared to do it”. Gee thanks! But it did work and it felt good on top of it.

  34. HI i have just come across your page and wanted to share how i have always suffered from ear and vertigo issues from a young age unfortunately.

    back on dec 26 after landing from a flight from disneyland with my 3 year old and husband the following day i had a fever and long story short contracted the horrible influenza virus of 2013…i am still suffering with my ears popping plugged and pressure to the point it makes me drive on roads that don’t have the slightest incline as this even causes horrible pressure and discomfort in my ears…i too am so afraid of popping my ears by blowing my nose and holding it as it didn’t work the last few times and i felt more pressure and felt couldn’t heaR IT WAS HORRIBLE…

    i am worried it won’t go away although seems slight bit better since the sinus infection and severe symptoms of flu have subsided but living with this is becoming debilitating.
    I am curious did your MD ever order a CT scan of sinuses or did i miss that?
    seems like many are having ear and pressure issues this flu season…i am stuffing my nose with afrin steroid nasal sprays, steroid ear drops, guaifenesen oral tabs, sudafed, ibuprofen and i don’t know what else i feel like a toxic waste site…

    hope you feel better the weather seems to really affect my condition as in high pressure and low pressure and change in barometric pressure how aBOUT ANY ONE ELSE?
    BEST REGARDS,
    I’LL POST ABOUT THE CT SCAN FINDINGS…

  35. Today I flew from Omaha with a stop in St. Louis and then to Orlando. On our descent into St. Louis I experienced excruciating pain/pressure in both ears. I had been chewing gum the entire time but I also have a pretty bad head cold (day 2.) The pain & pressure was better once we got back up to our cruising altitude, but once again on the descent into Orlando same story. It’s now 5 hours later and still no pop. I have yawned what must be 1,000 times, I’ve tried holding my nose shut while I “blow”, I’ve tried pulling on my ears when I yawn, nothing is working. I’m online searching for remedies – I’m in a hotel room without the comforts of home so I’m going to try a hot shower/bath, relaxation, and hope for the best. I do have a nasal decongestion medication so I hope to wake up feeling better. I’ve read all of the comments, it scares me that this could last more than overnight. I have to talk to customers at a trade show for the next three days – I can barely hear! Wish me luck!

  36. Hi, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. THE PAIN SUCKS! Anyway I always used to plug my nose and blow, but this is now unsuccessful for me. I remember I flew to LOG (Boston) from SFO (sanfrancisco) straight and my ears popped fine. But driving to Lake Tahoe and back was a killer.

  37. Airplanes. They are earplugs designed for flying. Pick them up in a drug store. Adult and children size. They stabilize the pressure when flying. I always had a problem before… now, never.

  38. Hey all,

    I am reading all of these and I have the same exact problems. I work for an airline so I fly for free so you can imagine how many times I’ve flown, 94 times last year to be exact. My ears are the absolute worst when descending and I have done my research online and I came across this device called an EarPopper and I ordered one and used it and it has worked. I no longer have problems. I recommend this to you all.

    • I just bought an EarPopper for a flight to Japan later this year, as Psudoephedrine (sudafed) is illegal there.

      I’ve had problems for years flying and sudafed is the only thing that has worked (unfortunately earplanes had no effect at all). Sometimes even sudafed fails, eg on a short local flight or on a rapid descent. Pain the produces uncontrollable tears is the end result.

      Really hope the EarPopper works!

  39. I am so glad I found your post! I flew on a plan earlier today and have been struggling to get my ears to pop all day. I have been battling a cold though and had no idea that could be contributing to my problem! I am hoping to take as over the counter medicine to reduce the possible swelling and fluid that I hope is the cause.

  40. I just had a long international flight and connecting flights as well of over 20 hours plus. My ears are still plugged up after 5 days now. Has anyone had this problem and I’m worried that I may have lost my hearing because of the decent flight. Is this common. What should I do first to get my ears popped. Any advice…thanks.

  41. My ears popped in June 2013 and my full holiday was spoilt because my ear would not pop and now in to January 2014 and still having problems. Back at the dr this m

  42. My ears popped when landing in Spain in June 2013 and my full week on holiday I couldn’t pop it bk. now January 2014 and still having problems back of to drs now. Driving me crazy.

  43. Hi all,

    I had no idea how dangerous it was to fly with a cold until a recent international flight. The descent was excruciating and I partially lost hearing for an hour after we landed. It has been three months and my ears are still not normal. Now every time I swallow, they either click or pop (especially when I am working out). It’s extremely annoying and frustrating. If anyone has any recommendations or has experienced the same situation, I would greatly appreciate your input. Thank you, Derek

    • Derek… are you all better now? What I’ve experienced sounds exactly like you. Clicking ears when I work out and popping when I swallow. This all after allergies several months ago.

  44. I HAVE READ ALL THE COMMENTS AND I COULD RELATE TO EACH ONE OF YOU.. I STARTED TO HAVE EAR PROBLEMS OVER TEN YRS AGO AFTER A SEVERE COLD..WHEN I FEEL A COLD IS COMING ON I PANIC BECAUSE I KNOW MY EARS WILL START BOTHERING.. I’VE HAD EPISODES WHERE I PANIC BECUASE MY EARS CAN’T POP.. TAKES ME A LONG TIME TO FEEL RELEIVE.. WHAT I DO IS I RUB ALCOHOL AND VICKS OUT AND INSIDE THE EAR AND I ALSO WARM WATER ON A CUP AND PUT A WASH CLOTH OVER THE CUP AND LEAN MY EAR ON IT SO THE STEAM GOES IN MY EAR ..IT WORKS !!! I ALWAYS HAVE CRACKING IN MY EARS WHEN I SWALLOW.. I HAVE A TRIP COMING UP OF 4 HR FLIGHT AND I AM ALREADY IN DEEP PANIC THINKING MY EARS ARE GOING TO POP AND THAT WHEN I LAND I WON’T BE ABLE TE HEAR.. I’TS A HORRIBLE FEELING.. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT TO DO.. I WAS TOLD BY A FRIEND TO TAKE ZYRTEK A WEEK BEFORE FLYING TO TAKE WITH ME AFRIN AND GET EARPLUGS AND LOTS OF WATER.. HAS ANYONE DONE THIS AND HAS IT WORKED? I AM AFRAID TO BACK OUT OF MY TRIP.. PLEASE HELP !!!

    • Hi Sonia. ..
      Curious to know how your flight went. I have exactly what you’re describing and need to fly too. Hope all went well for you!

  45. I have a plugged right ear right now and am worried about an upcoming flight I have on Wednesday.

    Does anyone know if using earplanes on ears that are already plugged will help on this flight?

    • I heard that earplanes are really good but I don’t know if they work on ears that are already plugged….. I have really small ears though so maybe they have like a kids size or something?

  46. I was recently on a flight from Canada to HK then Saigon and my ears wouldn’t pop due to catching a cold the day I left. Severe pain, tears, ears wouldn’t unplug. Had to see a ear specialist in Saigon as my ears got worse. Took prescribed medication- decongestion cold/flu, steroid for swelling and antibiotic for infection. Follow up appt – no more fluid, pain or infection but ears still plugged and ringing (especially left one). I am to give it 2 more weeks and if hearing not 100% go and have a hearing test. What bothered me was the specialist advised it was because of my age (49) Hello… ears were 100% before I had this issue. Age my A__! Anyway hoping my hearing comes bask as its quite depressing and annoying not having my hearing at 100%. Anyone have advise – is this temporary – my next time flying is in April.

    • Hello Tina

      I know exactly what you feel. I am 44. Last spring my ear suddenly began to ring like a “morse code” sound in the middle of the night while I slept. Actually woke me up and I searched my house for the sound until I realized it was coming from my right ear. The following morning I felt the pressure and it wouldnt pop. My primary doctor told me it was my allergies (which I didn’t even realize I had) causing my Eustachian tube to close. The ringing lasted 2 days but it took longer for my ear to open and pop. I took Flonase for the swelling, Claritin D for my allergies and used a Nasal Saline several times a day in my nostrils to keep them flushed. Although I can hear perfectly fine now and my ear is now open and the ringing has been long gone, I am stuck with constant ear sensitivity to air pressure changes now. Just driving in slightly higher altitudes causes annoying popping constantly. For a long run my ears crackled and popped simply from swallowing. That has lightened up a bit, but overall my ears are still noisy. Even when a storm is coming I can feel the pressure and start experiencing popping. My ENT told me it was my age too (even though like you said my ears had been 100% fine before all this happened) and he even told me to “live with it” because there was nothing to be done for it. I am grateful I can hear, and I try to deal with all the popping, but I am fearful of flying and will be flying in the future. I am even fearful of driving into the mountains and have avoided this purposely. I would suggest to you to keep taking the nasal decongestant and try sleeping elevated and to try Earplanes which I read great things about when you fly. If I ever fly I will make sure to have these on hand. Goodluck and I hope your hearing is restored 100% very soon.

  47. I recently flew to Disneyland and a couple days ago we flew home and I have a cold so my ears aren’t unpoping and I’ve tried ear drops and everything but my ears just refuse to pop!
    Tomorrow I’m going to the doctor but I just want them to pop! I can barely hear anything they are so plugged up!

  48. I dont think earplanes work if your ears are already plugged but they work on ears that aren’t plugged yet but are going to on a plane. They block out they
    pressure so your ears don’t get plugged. I looked it up but it didn’t really say anything it just showed a description and I don’t think they work on already plugged ears. It also said not to use them if you have a really bad sinus infection.

  49. I can identify with you and the inability to POP that ear because of fluid and pressure behind the ear drum. I had a severe head cold and ear infection about a month ago and until just recently was having hearing problems and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to pop. I was given strong antibiotics and steroid tablets. An antibiotic exclusively for the ear and Nasonox. Although the infection is gone and I’m okay now, none of these things worked to relieve my hearing problem. I went to the ENT and they tried the syringe up the nose; holding my nose and blowing (which got me very dizzy) and still nothing. They finally gave me a Myringotomy, which is a small incision in the ear drum (after a numbing agent is given) and then inserted a very thin syringe that sucked out the fluid from behind the ear drum. It’s an outpatient procedure and only takes about 10 mins. If you haven’t taken care of your problem as of yet, I would highly recommend it. Good luck to you!

  50. Hi!

    I have recently flown on a plane back to California from the Philipenes (maybe about five days to a week ago.) and I have gotten plugged ears about two to three days after the flight. My ears didn’t hurt during the descent, they mostly just kept popping over and over again. I had landed and I was completely fine. No pain, no plugged ears. I don’t know what it is. It is very excruciatingly painful and I actually cried because it hurt so much. First, my right ear popped and it didn’t hurt that much, it was mostly just annoying and I couldn’t hear well. Then later my left ear popped and THATS when it began go hurt. The pain alternated back and forth from my right to left ear and it got to the point where the pain just stayed in both ears. It’s been about four days I think and I took some decongestant nasal spray yesterday and this morning and the pain has toned down but I still get these sudden jabbing pains in my right ear. The area around my right ear all the way down to my jawbone HURTS. I cannot open my jaws too wide or it will hurt. I would assume it wasn’t from my flight but two days after when I had washed my hair. Maybe some water got into my ears, but I just don’t understand.

    So, please, can someone tell me what’s wrong with me? I’m going to the doctor on Tuesday and I hope this isn’t something too serious. I’ve tried the hot water technique, but I will try it again later today.

    Any suggestions will help!

    • It sounds like you had pressure build up in the inner ears. Your Eustachian tubes may not be functioning normally for some reason from the excess popping during the flight. I was told this a while back and told to take a decongestant like Sudafed or similar that would help the Eustachian tubes open normally again. I also felt pain radiating from the side of my ear (temple area) and down to my upper jaw. Almost like a toothache feeling. I slept with my head elevated and took decongestants as well as advil for the pain and my ears slowly but surely felt normal again. They continued to pop often from simple things like yawning or swallowing and traveling in any high elevations, but at least the pain was gone. Good luck to you and hope you feel better soon.

  51. Flew several flights in Peru with a bad cold in July 2014. Have not been able to pop my ears since then. Cannot hear well. Fluid in both ears. Constant ringing in both ears. Driving me insane. Very depressing. Went to several ENTs, lots of prescription meds + over the counter meds like Sudafed, along with multiple sprays up nose. Then went to allergist. He says I have reflux. Ears have been flushed. No wax. Bought ear popper ($200). Used for months. Helped only slightly. Used swimmer’s drops, mineral oil, but nothing works. Help!

  52. So I went on a flight last night, my nose was a litte stuffy before gettng on the plane. After th first flight, the problem went a way. But after decending on the second plane I started having horrible ear pains that made me cry. When I go off th plane I noticed that my ears still havent fixed. Its been 11 hours since I got off the plane and its still the same. What do I do?

  53. I went on a vacation and got sinuses we went to see the doctor and she told my dad to get airplane plugs which were supposed to prevent this but didn’t so I was wondering how long did it take to get your ears to pop

  54. Well my ears popped on my flight back yesterday and have not popped back yet… I have tried everything, and nothing seems to work. I am not actually in any pain tho, but it is a real pain to have everything sound like it’s under water. It’s driving me mad. My ears always pop on flights, but usually within a few hours they are ok again.

  55. Well this happened to me aswell when landing only!going up wasn’t as much a problem. Here’s where it gets worse I have anxiety and panic attacks, soo when this happened with the fact there was not enough oxygen in the cabin.i passed out and not only that but I urinated on myself. I knew when I came too that I looked pale and like crap but know one seemed to notice.however when I got up I felt the warmth on my pants so I wrapped my jacket around my waist in imbaresment! And walked out the pain was soo so intense and after 2 months it’s still comes in from time to time,I feel like I have pressure in my head! Then at the same time I have to control my anxiety and panic attacks. Soo I say hey it could be worse.

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