Ear pain during flight or while scuba diving is a result of a blocked eustachian tube and/or a rapid change of pressure in the air or water around you. Eustachian tubes are thin canals that run between the middle ear and the back of your mouth. Air constantly moves through the tubes to balance the pressure in the middle and inner ears.

Pressure changes at high altitudes and under water. When a plane takes off and lands, for example, the altitude changes rapidly. Planes are pressurized on the inside, but some changes in pressure do occur. When the pressure changes quickly, a vacuum occurs in the middle ear that pulls on the eardrum. That causes discomfort and muffles sounds. In rare cases, the middle ear may fill with fluid or the eardrum may rupture.

You’re much more likely to experience ear pain if you’re congested. If you must fly when congested, ask your doctor if it’s ok to take a decongestant. If you’re congested, you should not scuba dive.



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