How do doctors treat airplane ear
Jul 06, 2023 By Sean William

Are you dreading flying with your little one? Do their eardrums painful pop on takeoff and landing, leaving them screaming and inconsolable? Don't worry – we've got the inside scoop from our panel of doctors on ensuring those ears are still smiling when the plane touches down.

Learn all about what experts suggest for caring parents in this post that has all the strategies you need to relieve any pain caused during air travel. Read on for a comprehensive step-by-step guide!

20 Ways To Soothe A Kid's Ears On A Plane, According To Doctors

1.Use Tylenol or ibuprofen

Once your child is two, you can give them safe medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol to reduce ear pain during a flight. It should be taken 30 minutes before the plane takes off and landing to help reduce any inflammation that causes ear pain.

2. Give your little one something sugary

Give your kid a lollipop or a piece of hard candy while taking off and during landing to distract them and keep their mouth busy. This will stimulate saliva production, which helps equalize pressure between the inside and outside of the eustachian tubes.

3. Encourage swallowing or yawning

Encouraging your child to swallow frequently can also help reduce the build-up of pressure in their middle ear. You can also have your little one yawn, as it is a natural reflex that helps open the eustachian tubes and release some of the pressure built up in the ears.

4. Offer chewing gum

Chewing gum increases saliva production, like sucking on candy, and helps reduce the discomfort caused by changing air pressure on takeoff and landing.

5. Let them sip on a drink during take-off or descent

Letting your child sip on a cold beverage such as water or milk during takeoff and descent will help keep their ears wet, thus reducing feelings of pain in the ears due to air pressure changes.

6. Give them something to squeeze or put gentle pressure on their ears

Give your child something soft to squeeze, like a stress ball or pillow. This can help relieve some of the pressure in their eustachian tubes and make them more comfortable during air travel.

7. Use an oral decongestant

If you are expecting a long flight, consider giving your little one an over-the-counter oral decongestant so their eustachian tubes don't become congested and cause pain. Consult with your doctor before using any medication for your child.

8. Try using earplugs or noise-canceling headphones

Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help reduce the amount of loud noises coming in and out of your child's ears on a plane. This can help reduce their discomfort during takeoff and landing and keep them occupied throughout the flight.

9. Use saline nasal drops or sprays

Saline nasal drops or sprays help relieve any congestion in your child's nose that might be causing pain in their eustachian tubes. Ask your pediatrician what type of drops would be most suitable for your little one before using them.

10. Try pressure equalization (PE) tubes

If your child continues to experience difficulty with air travel, consider having PE tubes implanted in their ear by an otolaryngologist. These small tubes help regulate air pressure in the eustachian tube, reducing any discomfort your child may feel during takeoff and landing.

11. Avoid sleeping or drinking alcohol on a plane

Sleeping or drinking alcohol on a plane can increase your child's risk of developing ear pain due to changes in air pressure. Avoiding these activities will help reduce their chances of experiencing this type of discomfort.

12. Try using over-the-counter ear drops and sprays

Over-the-counter ear drops and sprays can reduce inflammation or congestion that might be causing ear pain for your little one during air travel. You should consult your doctor before using any medication for your child.

13. Take off and land in a reclined position

Having your child sit in a reclined position during takeoff and landing can help reduce any air pressure-related discomfort they may experience. Make sure that the seatbelt is securely fastened throughout the journey.

14. Try using an ear patch or bandage

Applying an ear patch or bandage behind your child's ears before takeoff and descent can help prevent them from experiencing pain due to changing air pressure. This technique allows air to escape from their eustachian tubes slowly, over time, instead of all at once.

15. Use distraction techniques

Distracting your child with toys, books, or games during takeoff and landing can help reduce the pain they feel in their ears. This can also keep them from feeling restless during long flights.

16. Make sure your child is well hydrated

Ensure your child stays hydrated throughout the flight, as dehydration can cause additional discomfort in their ears due to changing air pressure. Ensure you bring plenty of water or juice for them to sip on during the journey.

17. Take a break from flying if possible

If your child continues to experience difficulty with air travel, taking a break from flying may be wise until their symptoms improve. Discuss this option with your physician if necessary.

18. Avoid eating dairy products before a flight

Dairy products can cause mucus build-up in your child's eustachian tubes, making them more prone to ear pain during takeoff and landing. Avoiding dairy products before a flight may reduce any discomfort they feel.

19. Use an age-appropriate decongestant

If your child is older than one year, consider giving them a safe decongestant before taking off or landing to reduce any congestion in their eustachian tubes that could be causing ear pain. Consult with your doctor before using any medication for your child.

20. Bring along items that make your kid feel comfortable

Bringing items that make your little one feel more comfortable, such as their favorite stuffed animal or blanket, can help them cope with any ear pain they might experience during air travel. Keep these items nearby and accessible throughout the journey to make it easier for your child.

These are the top strategies that doctors suggest for parents looking to reduce their little one's ear pain during air travel. With some planning and preparation, you can ensure your child is comfortable on any flight! Remember to consult your doctor before using any medication or trying any of these techniques.


How do flight attendants deal with ear pain?

Flight attendants are trained to recognize signs of ear pain and discomfort in passengers. They can advise tackling any pain that might be experienced during the flight, such as drinking plenty of fluids or using a decongestant.

What if my child is still in pain after trying these strategies?

If your child continues to experience ear pain after trying these strategies, you should consult their doctor. They may suggest other treatments or medications to help reduce their discomfort during air travel.

Is there anything else I should do to prepare for air travel with my little one?

Yes! Ensure you bring a few items to make the journey more comfortable for your child. These may include noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, toys, books to keep them entertained during the flight, snacks, and their favorite blanket or stuffed animal.

Also, plan and book a seat near the aisle, as it will make restroom breaks easier.


This post has been a helpful guide for you as you prepare to fly with your little one. Always consult with your pediatrician before using any medication or trying these strategies, and ensure plenty of items on board that will keep them entertained during the flight. With the right preparation, you can ensure your child's journey is comfortable and stress-free!