Why Do My Ears Fill up When I Go up in an Airplane?
Your ears sometimes seem to “fill up” and may even hurt when you go up in an airplane. The chamber of the middle ear is connected to the throat by a narrow tube. The tube keeps the air pressure in the middle ear the same as the pressure outside.
When you ascend rapidly in an airplane, the pressure inside the ear is greater than outside. The tube corrects this by letting some of the air out of the middle ear. This equalizes pressure on both sides of the eardrum, and the pain goes away. Swallowing several times helps clear your ears – sometimes with a pop!
For many people, the problem occurs when the plane comes down and air pressure in the cabin increases. The little tubes from the nose may not let air through fast enough. Then the air pressure in your inner ear stays low and the higher pressure of the cabin air pushes in on your eardrum. That hurts.
It helps to keep the muscles of your face and mouth working to massage the little tubes and keep them open for air to go through. That’s why it helps to chew gum.