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Health Tip: Clogged Ears On a Plane?

-- Changes in altitude, such as those you experience when flying, can cause an uncomfortable "clogged" feeling in your ears.

If you try to relieve the pressure by blowing your nose too hard, you could perforate the eardrum or force bacteria into the deeper parts of the ear.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers these suggestions to help you safely relieve pressure in the ears when flying:

  • About an hour before your flight is scheduled to leave, take a decongestant.
  • Try yawning to gently relieve pressure as altitude changes.
  • Keep swallowing to help unclog ears.
  • Chew a piece of gum while the plane ascends and descends.
  • If your ears still feel clogged, inhale, hold your nose, and very gently exhale with your mouth closed until you feel relief. Be very careful not to do this with too much force.
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Posted: January 2009