Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



If you experience the symptoms of barotrauma during a flight, there are several things you can do:

  • Chew gum or suck on hard candy.

  • If you don't have gum or candy, yawn and swallow frequently.

  • If these methods don't work, pinch your nose closed, inhale through your mouth, and then try to push the air out through your nose while keeping it pinched shut. Don't push hard, and stop as soon as one ear pops. If you blow too hard, you can tear your eardrums, so do it carefully.

Most cases of persistent barotrauma of the ear can be treated with decongestants. In unusually persistent cases, an ear, nose and throat doctor may have to make a small incision in the eardrum to equalize the pressure and drain the fluid. If you have a ruptured eardrum, you need to keep water out of your ear to prevent infection. A perforation of the eardrum that has not healed after two months may need to be repaired surgically.

Page 6 of 9     Next Page:  Barotrauma When to Call A Doctor
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.