How to Relieve Ear Pressure

Learning how to relieve ear pressure can be as easy as yawning. Yawning forces the mouth open, as well as the Eustachian tubes found deep inside the ear. Once the tubes open up, the air pressure within the middle ear can equalize with the air outside of the ear.

The question of how to relieve ear pressure often comes to mind after traveling on an airplane. When a plane is coming in for a landing, the air pressure can fluctuate and cause pressure to build up in your middle ear. While uncomfortable, the pressure usually releases on its own. But once in a while, it doesn't. When the pressure does not release on its own, it may turn from uncomfortable to downright painful.

How to Relieve Ear Pressure
There are several easy methods of relieving built-up pressure in your ears. All are easy to do and usually work within a few minutes.

  • Close your mouth and then pinch your nose closed with your thumb and forefinger. Blow gently at first, then a little harder. Do not ever blow hard. Gentle blowing usually results in a slight pop as the pressure is finally expelled.
  • Yawn. 
  • Chew gum or clench and stretch the back of your jaw. Both activities allow the ear canal to stretch and narrow, which can release pressure.
  • Hang your head and shoulders over the side of a bed, carefully. This change in body posture can cause the pressure in your ears to change as well.
  • Heat a wash cloth with hot water. Squeeze out the excess water. Place the washcloth in the bottom of a paper or plastic cup so that you don't burn your ear with it. Place the cup over your ear. The heat will force the pressure to equalize. (A paper or plastic cup is necessary so that it can be formed over and around the ear.)
  • Use a Neti Pot to relieve sinus ear pressure.
  • Try heating salt crystals or rice. Heat about a ½ cup of salt or rice in the microwave. Watch it carefully, as it can easily burn. Pour the heated material into a cotton sock. Tie the end of the sock and place the full sock on the bed. Place your ear directly on the sock and wait. The heat will force a change in air pressure. Be very careful that you don't burn yourself.

If all of the easy methods fail, it's time to contact a physician for expert medical advice. A buildup of wax or an ear infection could be preventing the pressure from releasing.

To keep from finding yourself in this same situation the next time you fly, be prepared. Keep a few sticks of chewing gum on hand or try sucking on hard candy to keep the pressure from building in your ears. Try not to fly if you have a cold. If you must, make sure you use a decongestant or antihistamine to keep your sinuses from clogging up during the flight. If you are flying with a baby, make sure the baby has a pacifier or bottle to suck on during the trip. This will help keep the pressure from building within the baby's ears.

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