Locations Main Campus: Chesterfield, MO 63017   |   Locations
314-434-1500 314-434-1500   |   Contact Us

Multimedia Encyclopedia


 
E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Ear - blocked at high altitudes

High altitudes and blocked ears; Flying and blocked ears; Eustachian tube dysfunction - high altitude

 

The air pressure outside of your body changes as altitude changes. This creates a difference in pressure on the two sides of the eardrum. You may feel pressure and blockage in the ears as a result.

Information

 

The eustachian tube is a connection between the middle ear (the space deep to the eardrum) and the back of the nose and upper throat.

Swallowing or yawning opens the eustachian tube and allows air to flow into or out of the middle ear. This helps equalize pressure on either side of the eardrum.

Doing these things can unclog blocked ears when you are going up or coming down from high altitudes. Chewing gum the entire time you are changing altitudes helps by causing you to swallow often. This may prevent your ears from getting blocked.

People who always have blocked ears when flying may want to take a decongestant about an hour before the flight leaves.

If your ears are blocked, you can try breathing in, then gently breathing out while holding your nostrils and mouth closed. Use care when doing this. If you breathe out too forcefully, you can cause ear infections by forcing bacteria into your ear canals. You can also create a hole (perforation) in your eardrum if you blow too hard.

 

 

References

Byyny RL, Shockley LW. Scuba diving and dysbarism. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 143.

O'Reilly RC, Levi J. Anatomy and physiology of the Eustachian tube. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 131.

 
  • Ear anatomy

    Ear anatomy - illustration

    The ear consists of external, middle, and inner structures. The eardrum and the 3 tiny bones conduct sound from the eardrum to the cochlea.

    Ear anatomy

    illustration

  • Medical findings based on ear anatomy

    Medical findings based on ear anatomy - illustration

    The external structures of the ear may aid in diagnosing some conditions by the presence or absence of normal landmarks and abnormal features including: earlobe creases, preauricular pits, and preauricular tags.

    Medical findings based on ear anatomy

    illustration

  • External and internal ear

    External and internal ear - illustration

    The ear is a complicated organ controlling hearing and balance. When sounds waves reach the ear, they are translated into nerve impulses. These impulses then travel to the brain where they are interpreted by the brain as sound.

    External and internal ear

    illustration

    • Ear anatomy

      Ear anatomy - illustration

      The ear consists of external, middle, and inner structures. The eardrum and the 3 tiny bones conduct sound from the eardrum to the cochlea.

      Ear anatomy

      illustration

    • Medical findings based on ear anatomy

      Medical findings based on ear anatomy - illustration

      The external structures of the ear may aid in diagnosing some conditions by the presence or absence of normal landmarks and abnormal features including: earlobe creases, preauricular pits, and preauricular tags.

      Medical findings based on ear anatomy

      illustration

    • External and internal ear

      External and internal ear - illustration

      The ear is a complicated organ controlling hearing and balance. When sounds waves reach the ear, they are translated into nerve impulses. These impulses then travel to the brain where they are interpreted by the brain as sound.

      External and internal ear

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Ear - blocked at high altitudes

           

             

            Review Date: 5/25/2016

            Reviewed By: Sumana Jothi, MD, specialist in laryngology, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

             
             
             

             

             

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.



            Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.