Pressure relieving earplugs (a brand name is EarPlanes) help to relieve air pressure changes during flights. My ear doctor has suggested I wear these, especially close to landing time. I have also seen several pilots (who are sitting in the back of the plane) wear these also. EarPlanes are sold at many airport stores for less than $10.
Other solutions to the ear pressure problem may include chewing gum, yawning or opening your mouth or moving your jaw back and forth.
My doctor also recommended the “Valsalva maneuver.” Fill your mouth with air and pinch your nose while forcibly exhaling through your nostrils. The popping noise you hear can help equalize the pressure inside your ear. Use the Valsalva maneuver periodically, he suggests, especially during ascent and descent.
Both my ear doctor and general physical have recommended that I take Sudafed 30 minutes before take-off and again 30-minutes before landing. This helps relieve pressure in ears during takeoff and landing.
Note that if you fly to Japan, I have read that Sudafed and other cold cures that contain pseudoephedrine are considered controlled substances and are illegal to bring into the country.
Always check with your doctor before taking any medications.
If you are flying with a cold, an ear infection may occur. If the clogged feeling doesn’t go away for awhile, get to an ear doctor right away. I have had many ear infections over my years of flying. To avoid any more infections, I now use my EarPlanes and use the
Valsalva maneuver several times when we’re descending.
Earplanes have the added benefit of reducing noise, so while you are enjoying clog-free ears, you will also not be hearing the full effect of the nearby babies screaming … which can be a very good thing!