Why Do Our Ears Pop on Planes?

Exploring the science behind ear popping on planes, Eustachian tubes, air pressure equalization, and how chewing gum can help during air travel.

Why Do Our Ears Pop on Planes?
Photo by Photoholgic / Unsplash

Have you ever felt your ears pop uncomfortably during a flight?

It’s a common issue many flyers encounter.

The sensation can vary from a feeling of fullness to muffled hearing or even pain.

But did you know that there's a simple trick to alleviate this problem?

The Eustachian Tubes and Air Pressure

The discomfort experienced during air travel stems from unequal air pressure between the inner ear and the external environment.

At the center of this pressure regulation are the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and upper throat.

With the rapid changes in air pressure during ascent and descent, the Eustachian tubes struggle to maintain equilibrium.

Chewing Gum and Air Pressure Equalization

Chewing gum is a practical solution to counteract the unequal air pressure.

The rhythmic jaw movements involved in chewing help open and close the Eustachian tubes, facilitating the equalization of pressure between the middle ear and the external environment.

This ultimately reduces the discomfort and the sensation of ears popping.

Swallowing and Yawning

In addition to chewing gum, swallowing and yawning also aid in opening the Eustachian tubes, enabling pressure equalization.

These actions prompt the muscles in the back of the throat to expand and contract, promoting air movement through the Eustachian tubes.

Understanding the science behind ear popping on planes sheds light on why chewing gum serves as a practical solution.

By engaging in activities that involve the jaw and throat muscles, such as chewing, swallowing, and yawning, travelers can mitigate the discomfort caused by changes in air pressure during air travel.

So, the next time you're on a flight, consider reaching for a pack of gum to ease the discomfort in your ears and make your journey more pleasant.