Simple Tricks To Help Prevent And Relieve Your Kids' Ear-Popping Pain On Your Next Flight

Ear discomfort is a common airplane ailment. Shifts in air pressure increase tension on the eustachian tubes, which connect the back of the middle ear to the back of the throat. A blocked, uncomfortable ear can be especially bothersome during takeoff and landing due to the abrupt changes in air pressure. While adults may experience ear issues while flying, kids have it rough for a particular reason. Doctor Paul Bikhazi, MD, of EvergreenHealth Ear, Nose, Throat Care told Reader's Digest, "Children and particularly babies can have underdeveloped eustachian tubes, increasing their risk of ear pain during air travel."

It goes without saying — no parent wants to see their kid endure an earache while flying. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple tricks for soothing your little one, or even preventing a flare-up from the get-go. Keep in mind that your methods will vary based on their age. While there's some overlap, a five-month-old isn't going to have the same kind of ear care as an eight-year-old.

How to help a baby versus an older child

To alleviate your baby's in-flight ear pain, try nursing or bottle-feeding them during takeoff and landing. Continuous swallowing may help open up their ears when these intense pressure changes occur. The sucking motion can also reduce discomfort, so keep a pacifier on hand when flying with your newborn.

It may seem counterintuitive, but let your baby cry it out for a bit. You heard that right – crying helps unblock the eustachian tubes. Additionally, do your best to keep your baby (or older kid) awake during ascent and descent. While asleep, your infant won't swallow as much, which will affect the balance of air pressure in their ear.

The importance of mouth motion applies to older kids as well. So, if your child is older, have them chew gum or munch on a snack when the plane departs and lands. Or, give them a beverage to sip through a straw. Just steer clear of caffeinated drinks, as they can increase dehydration on a plane. Of course, drinking water while flying is optimal. A yawn or big mouth stretch is another effective remedy for plugged-up ears. All of these activities encourage movement in the muscles, which is key for equalizing pressure and mitigating that frustrating ear-popping pain.