Traveling by plane can be uncomfortable for many people, especially if you already have hearing issues. One of the common reasons is due to air pressure. When a plane takes off, the pressure increases. When the plane descends, the air pressure increases.
In practical terms, this means during take-off the air inside your middle ear pushes outward towards the eardrum. And during landing, the eardrum gets sucked back inward. These changes in air pressure can sometimes be too much to handle for the Eustachian tube, which normally helps equalize pressure.1
For some people, the change in air pressure may not just be uncomfortable but extremely painful. This painful condition is called ear barotrauma or airplane ear(s). Usually you can counter the differences in air pressure with self-care steps such as yawning, swallowing or chewing gum. However, for a severe case of airplane ear, you might need to see a doctor.