Why Do My Ears Hurt At Different Altitudes?

In each ear is the Eustachian tube, which connects to the throat and nose and helps to regulate ear pressure. When it becomes blocked due to pressure changes, it can cause considerable pain and discomfort. Occasional ear pressure is normal, especially in response to changes in altitude. Many people experience the condition when flying on a plane, diving or even driving or hiking through mountains. When ear barotrauma becomes chronic, however, it can cause complications.

How To Get Quick Relief From Painful Ear Pressure

  • Yawn
  • Chew gum
  • Breathe deeply
  • Take an antihistamine or decongestant
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Quick Fact

Although ear barotrauma occurs in people of all ages, infants and young children are at a heightened risk. This is because children’s’ Eustachian tubes are smaller and more susceptible to blockages.

How Serious Is Ear Barotrauma?

Most ear barotrauma episodes are temporary. However, frequent recurrences can result in complications for some people, including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ear infections
  • A ruptured ear drum
  • Chronic dizziness and vertigo
  • Bleeding from the ears and nose

When To See A Doctor For Ear Pressure Problems

If you experience frequent episodes of ear pain, diminished hearing and recurring symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with an ENT. These are all signs of severe or chronic ear barotrauma, which can result in serious complications if left untreated.

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