If you suffer from excruciating ear pain when flying, a nurse has revealed the ‘genius hack’ you can use during takeoff and landing. Just be prepared for some “strange” looks from fellow passengers.
The change in air pressure on takeoff and landing is what makes your ears feel congested. This happens when the Eustachian tubes that link you middle ear to the back of your throat get blocked.
As a result, some people are unable to hear anything while others feel a dull pain.
While there are many tricks to help combat the annoying issue, like yawning and drinking water, a nurse from the UK has a completely different method.
Charlotte Stanley, who goes by TikTok handle ‘the_ear_nurse’, recommends putting a cup with a paper towel drenched with hot water to your ear.
In the clip, which has amassed almost one million views, she explains how it works.
“I’m going to show you the ear ache hack in real time,” she said from her plane seat.
“Ask your flight attendant for two plastic cups with hot paper towels. Trust me, they’ll know exactly what you’re asking for.”
With the towels stuck firmly into the bottom of the cups, she then places each one over her ears, adding that it helps stabilise the pressure in the middle of the ear.
“Put these on both of your ears, causing an airtight seal,” she told viewers.
“The steam helps stabilise the pressure in the middle ear. It’s all to do with barometric pressure.
“When the plane rapidly climbs or descends, it changes the pressures so quickly that the Eustachian tube often can’t keep up.”
The nurse said it can be used on adults and children.
Her hack has attracted hundreds of comments from impressed travellers, saying that they can’t wait to give it a go.
“OMG! I have mild hearing loss and I get lots of ear infections. Thank you so much,” one person wrote.
“This is so cool – we can try this,” another person wrote, tagging their friend.
Others said they have been using the method for years.
“This absolutely works. A flight attendant taught us this when my six-year-old old had an issue on a flight home many years ago,” one woman said.
“Flight attendants did this for me back in 1981. Throwback!” said another, while a third added: “I used to do this all my childhood! I now use the Earplanes ear plugs … and I swear they’ve been a blessing.”
Some suggested to try popping ears before the flight.
“I used to be in agony, I now just pop my ears at the start of the flight and again once throughout and I never get pressure build-up now or any pain,” one person wrote.
“Struggled with this my whole life – it makes me cry with pain. Decongestant capsules, yawning constantly and play music in headphones [works for me],” said another.
Charlotte said she decided to share the hack in real time while on a flight, after a previous clip on ear popping went viral.
“My last version of this hack went viral but it was really nice to put it into practice and show you all in real time. It just makes it make sense. I did get some funny looks filming this though,” she said.
Meanwhile, US-based Boeing 737 co-pilot Morgan, who is known for her flight-related content on TikTok, shared a clip explaining why you want your ears to pop on a plane.
“Your ears popping is your body’s way of relieving any pressure that is built up so that you don’t have something like a burst eardrum,” she said.
The aviation TikTok star, who has more than 12 million ‘likes’ on her videos, said if the pressure is building up and you’re getting one big painful pop, things like yawning, talking, eating and chewing gum can help.
“Really anything that’s going to move your jaw is going to help activate your Eustachian tube and pop your ears,” she said.
“If none of those work, you can do something called a Valsalva manoeuvre, which is where you pinch your nose and blow.”
She said don’t blow harder if your ears don’t clear as “this can lead to bigger issues”.
Morgan said if you’re ever in a situation where the pressure is really building up and your ears just aren’t popping, “always travel with some Afrin nasal spray”. The alternative in Australia is Drixine.
“That will help open up your sinuses and make it a little bit easier for you to pop your ears.”
However, she advised to use it sparingly and only to get you down to the ground when needed.
“Don’t plan on having to use it!”