To relieve ear pain or discomfort, you can take steps to open the Eustachian tube and relieve the pressure, such as:
- Chew gum
- Inhale, and then gently exhale while holding the nostrils closed and the mouth shut
- Suck on candy
When flying, do not sleep as the plane prepares to land. Repeat the listed steps to open the Eustachian tube. For infants and small children, nursing or taking sips of a drink may help.
Scuba divers should go down and come up slowly. Diving while you have allergies or a respiratory infection is dangerous. Barotrauma may be severe in these situations.
If self-care steps do not ease discomfort within a few hours or the problem is severe, you may need to see a health care provider.
You may need medicine to relieve nasal congestion and allow the Eustachian tube to open. These include:
- Decongestants taken by mouth, or by a nose spray
You may need antibiotics to prevent an ear infection if barotrauma is severe.
Rarely, surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work to open the tube. In this procedure, a surgical cut is made in the eardrum to allow pressure to become equal and fluid to drain (myringotomy).
If you must change altitude often or you are prone to barotrauma, you may need to have surgery to place tubes in the ear drum. This is not an option for scuba diving.