Who here is a fan of traveling? I AM. I AM. ME! To be honest, I’m the person that is constantly dreaming of my next destination. Dreaming of sitting on the beach next to turquoise waters with a mojito in my hand…. Yeah, that sounds pretty dang nice right now. I’m not saying that you need to hop on a plane and head to the smallest island over in Eastern Asia to travel or the South Pole if Antarctica is more your style. Even just taking a road trip to a new town in your state counts. There are many places in Minnesota that I have not yet explored but am adding to my road trip list.
Getting out of your normal routine and area is good for your health. Especially your mental health. Haven’t you seen those posts on Facebook that say taking a vacation makes people happier? I don’t know about you, but that’s all the research I need to book my next trip.
Why do my Ears Pop While Traveling?
You know that feeling when you’re sitting on a plane, and your back gets suctioned to the seat as you take off? For me, I absolutely love it (now, that is). As a child, I hated it because I knew that meant that soon my ears would do that painful popping thing.
Now, I might just have sensitive ears, but have your ears ever popped just while driving up north or through the mountains?! And you think to yourself, why is this happening?! Well, there’s no need to wrack your brain anymore because I’m about to tell you.
If you weren’t aware, our ears are pretty intricate. Our ears have this little thing called the Eustachian tube, which is a pencil-sized funnel connecting the back of our nose with the middle of our ear. The main job of this little tube is to keep the pressure in the middle of the ear equal to the air pressure outside of your body by allowing air to flow through to your inner ear (pretty crazy, right?!).
When the pressure outside changes quickly, like flying in a plane, driving through the mountains, or diving to the bottom of a pool, the tubes struggle to adjust quickly enough. When this happens, they become blocked. However, when the tubes can catch up, they begin to reopen to equalize the pressure. This is the part when you’ll feel that annoying pop. Even though it is painful and annoying, it is actually trying to make you more comfortable and bring you back to equalized pressure in your ears.
How to Pop my Ears?
Have you ever felt like your ears were never going to pop and you’d forever feel like you were listening to people talk underwater?! Well, here are my tips to avoid that feeling and pop those ears quicker:
- Yawn. Fake a yawn to mimic the wide stretch of your mouth to activate the Eustachian tube.
- Chew gum or drink fluids. Swallowing also activates the muscles that open the Eustachian tube.
- Nasal Decongestant. The eardrum tends to swell when the pressure inside and outside of your body is different. Therefore, taking a long-lasting nasal decongestant may offset some of the swelling. Doctors usually recommend Sudafed (12 or 24 hours) or the Afrin nasal spray. A thing to note with nasal spray is to take it 30 minutes before take-off and 30 minutes before descent. For me, I’d use Sudafed because I’m typically sleeping 30 minutes before descent and only wake up when we hit the runway.
- The Classic “Pinch Nose and Blow Out” Method. This one is one that I use all the time. And I mean all the time. When I’m not even on a plane. Sometimes my ears just feel plugged and I need to “blow” them out. I may have even just did it as I typed this. All you have to do is plug your nose, keep your mouth shut, and try to blow out air (obviously, none will come out) but you’ll feel your ears trying to pop.
- Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs. There are also pressure reducing earplugs that can be worn to regulate air pressure. This will help regulate air pressure, which aids in relieving discomfort from popping.
- Apply a Warm Washcloth. This one might be a little tricky when you’re on a plane, but if you prepare enough you can do it. Using a warm washcloth on your ear will help unplug the Eustachian tube. The warmth allows the tube to unclog, which means the tube will open and close again to prevent discomfort.
While you’re packing for your next adventure be sure to think ahead for the elevation and pressure change. It is common to just think of ear-popping while flying, but trust me, those mountain ranges can make your ears pop just as badly. So, while putting your cute outfits and pajamas into your suitcase, toss in some gum, nasal decongestant, or earplugs to help alleviate the discomfort.
I like to think of myself as a travel junky, so if you’re struggling to think of where to go next, please reach out. I would love to brainstorm destinations and map out a plan for you!
As always, if you need a research buddy, I am here for you. I want to ensure that you are living your healthiest life. Just because something says one thing, doesn’t mean that it is actually true. I know, talk about a major headache. Please reach out to me via social media, email, or comments if you are feeling overwhelmed and we can tackle the research together!
Spoiler alert: I am not a doctor or professional researcher by any means. I am just here to help you navigate through the millions of articles that will come up in one Google search.