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What makes your ears pop on a plane?


My ears always pop when a plane takes off and lands. That is, when I'm in it. I think this happens to most people, but why?

5188 day(s) ago

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Larry
Almost everyone experiences the displeasure of tightness in our ears along with a trouble hearing when taking off and landing in an airplane. Then, after a sudden pop, everything is back to normal again. The reason why ears pop during takeoff and landing is due to the anatomy of the ear and atmospheric pressure. On the surface of the Earth, the pressure is much greater than it is high up in the air. Air pressure can be thought of as the weight of the air surrounding us. The higher up you go, the thinner the air, so the pressure is less.

The ear has three sections. The outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear includes the ear canal and the eardrum. The inner ear is filled with liquid. The middle ear is between the eardrum and the inner ear. Air is trapped in the middle ear. As we ascend or descend in an airplane, the pressure around us becomes different than the pressure in the middle ear. Attached to the middle ear is a thin tube, called a Eustachian tube, that connects to the nose and the rest of the sinus cavity. When air travels from the sinuses to the middle ear, the pressure stabilizes with a pop, much like the pop of a bottle of champagne. When ascending the pressure is greater inside the ear and it usually pops easily as some of the air escapes. When descending, it is just the opposite, and air must go up into the ear. This is often a little more difficult. It can be helpful to help the tubes with swallowing motions. Other people find yawning or opening the mouth very wide helps to open the tubes to equalize pressure.




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