- When air pressure is too high or too low this will cause your ears to react.closeup of a man ear in color image by Ana de Sousa from Fotolia.com
When you fly in a plane, your ears are apt to pop. This occurs because of the decrease in air pressure as well as the decrease in air molecules. Ears pop as a way to balance the outside pressure and inside pressure of the ear.
Eustachian Tube Difficulties
- When ears pop, that is the rush of air in or out of the eustachian tube. The air then travels to the back of the nose. The function of the tube is to get air in and out of the middle ear. At high altitudes, the eustachian tubes must work fast and hard to accommodate the difference in air pressure. Sometimes it cannot keep pace and do the job. When that happens, your ears become clogged and sound is muffled, which is a strange and uncomfortable feeling.
- The middle ear houses the tympanic membrane or the eardrum, which is a stretched, thin piece of skin, as well as three little bones called the anvil, hammer and stirrup. Sound waves come into the ear via the ear canal and push on the eardrum. This results in vibration. The three small bones amplify the vibrations and send them on to the inner part of the ear for processing, according to T-gone.com.
Too much pressure on the eardrum can cause it to rupture. On the other hand, too little pressure can make the eardrum collapse. When that happens, the eardrum cannot vibrate. For the ear to work efficiently, the body must maintain air pressure in the middle ear within a close range.
Problems Ascending and Descending
- As an airplane ascends, the pressure outside is dropping and air pops out of the ear. However, upon descent the outside ear pressure is rising, which means that more air is needed inside the inner ear to keep pace with the outside pressure. Chewing gum or swallowing forces air bubbles back up into the eustachian tubes, which should relieve pressure. As the plane takes off or is landing, repeatedly swallow or pinch your nose and this should shove air back into the middle ear, making your ears pop.
Low Oxygen Difficulties
- The higher the altitude, the less molecules of oxygen are present, which means you are breathing in less oxygen. To increase the amount of oxygen in your lungs, breathe faster.