Why do ears pop, why can I feel pressure in my ears, and why should we swallow or chew on airplanes?

Our hearing can be affected by travelling – we look at why

If you’ve been lucky enough to go on a plane, you’ll know that when you’re taking off or landing sometimes your ears can feel rather funny…

Your hearing might become muffled and you might even get a pain inside your ears. Fortunately once you’re up in the air…


Your ears tend to pop and everything returns to normal. So what’s happening?

Your middle ear contains trapped air. As you go higher, air around you gets lighter – or as we say – it’s at a lower pressure. The trapped air is heavier – or at a higher pressure.

This trapped air pushes against your eardrum and can change the way things sound. It can also cause your ear to hurt.

You can often get rid of the pressure by swallowing, chewing, or yawning.

This moves air up and down in a little canal called the Eustachian tube that runs between the middle ear and the throat. This helps change the pressure in your ear to match the air around you.

Sometimes you can get a similar feeling when you’re swimming. The pressure of the water against your eardrum can cause things to sound muffled.

Usually once the water leaves, things go back to normal. However, sometimes it can take a while!

Always check with a doctor if you have muffled hearing or if your ears hurt and cannot pop because you could have an ear infection.

Hallux’s Hearing Helpdesk is now open and is answering all of your hearing questions!

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Hallux’s Hearing Helpdesk, with support from Phonak


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