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When pressure on your eardrum increases or decreases from outside your ear, pressure on the inside of your ear drum causes the ear drum to expand, sort of like a balloon either inward or outward, resulting in ear pain.
Normally, the inner ear cavity pressure is equalized with that outside by air flowing through the eustation tubes that connect the throat with the inner ear. (That is why swallowing or chewing gum can help to speed the rate of pressure equalization). The pressure--pain problem in flying occurs because the eustation tubes cannot move enough air fast enough to keep up with the outside pressure changes. That increasing pressure difference causes the tubes to be "mashed" closed by the pressure acting on the soft tissues through which the eustation tubes pass, and as a result, the tubes move even less air than normal.
Most of the ear plugs we offer operate by restricting the flow of air across the plugs to allow the inner ear more time to keep up with the pressure changes. For these plugs to work best, make sure they are properly sealed all around in the ear canal. Even small gaps can cause the ear plug to fail and let too much air move past it, resulting in the same old ear pain you are trying to avoid.
For best results put the plugs in prior to takeoff and leave them in until the plane has fully reached cruising altitude. If you take them out when the seatbelt sign is turned off, that may be too soon to allow your ears to fully adjust, so wait at least 10-15 minutes after that. You can wear the plugs throughout the flight of course, and many passengers do find that the ear plugs help with the noise as well as the pressure making the flight better all around. If you do take the plugs out, remember to put them back in as soon as you sense that the plane is beginning its descent. If you are planning to sleep, put them in before you go to sleep so that you do not have the unpleasant experience of having your ear pain wake you up!
Most ear plugs that are inserted into the ear canal are not recommended for young children. For kids over 3 years of age, try the child size EarPlanes, and for younger children and for those the child size EarPlanes will not fit, we suggest that you ask your pediatrician for their suggestions.
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