Tis the season to be flying. If your ears give you problems when you fly, here a few tips to help ease the discomfort.

A little ear anatomy first. Your Eustachian tube connects your throat to your middle ear. Normally, the pressure in the middle ear space is the same as the outside air pressure. When the cabin pressure changes, it is the job of the Eustachian tube to equalize the pressure. What you feel when your ears hurt or plug up is that pressure change. Swallowing, drinking or pinching your nose and blowing can relieve that feeling. The descent always feels worse because the change in pressure seals the Eustachian tube.

Try using nasal spray and a decongestant one hour before your take off. And if your flight is more than four hours, repeat a half hour before the descent. Drinking water during the flight also helps. And if you can stay awake it will help ease your discomfort because when we sleep we don’t swallow.

At the airport and pharmacy you can purchase Earplanes. These silicone earplugs will slow down the rate of pressure and can help to ease your discomfort. Proper insertion is important.

Try to reschedule your flight if you are experiencing ear pain. Ear pain puts you at risk for damage to your eardrum. Schedule an appointment to see your primary care physician or an Ear Nose and Throat specialist.