My left ear seems blocked after plane landing. Valsalva didn't help. Some information tells me to inhale hot steam in my ear, is it correct?

The Valsalva maneuver is a technique that is used to correct the pressure in the ears by blowing hard while keeping the nose and mouth closed with the hands. This is a technique that should be used to forcibly correct pressure imbalances if the normal, natural technique of swallowing or chewing is not effective. If this maneuver is not effective at clearing out the pressure imbalance then there is a possibility that the tube that connects your nose and middle ear is blocked.

Pressure imbalances in the ear occur because one part of the ear faces the outside atmospheric pressure and one end is inside the body. If there were no mechanism to correct the pressure in the two parts then the result would be diminished hearing and possible damage to ear because of a stagnant pressure in one end of the ear. This can lead to ear damage, so the years of evolution have given human beings a method of ensuring that the pressure in the middle ear and the atmospheric pressure can be equalized. The problems with this mechanism occur because the ears, nose and throat are all connected. The connection from the ears to the nose and throat, the two of which form the upper respiratory tract, is through a thin tube called the Eustachian tube. Normally, this tube can open a bit wider than when it is in its state of rest by the action of moving the jaw. In simple terms, when you chew, the action opens up the tube and pressure is equalized. Problems begin when the nose is infected or when there is heavy mucus secretion that blocks the Eustachian tube. When we do not pay attention to colds and sinus infections, the infected mucus can find its way into this tube and block the pressure flow. Further, this can also end up infecting the ear. To summarize the problem, you need to clear the congestion in your nose and Eustachian tube to correct this problem.

The advice of steam inhalation is indeed a good one except that you should be inhaling the steam and not directing it to your ear. When steam is inhaled, the steam condenses on the thick mucus of the nose and fills it with moisture. This loosens it up and it follows the pull of gravity and comes down to your mouth or nose where you can then get rid of it. A natural decongestant is ginger, which can be consumed in tea and drunk hot. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that will stop any mucus secretion and will provide you a lot of relief.

answered by G M

Blocked ear, also called as Aerotitis can be quite painful. It means that the ear does not adjust to aircraft pressure changes and your Eustachian tubes get congested due to excess mucus. It is commonly experienced by passengers with cold and ear infection.

Yes, inhaling hot steam in your ear helps to clear blocked ear in seconds.

  1. Take a small wax-coated drinking cup (like those found in flight lavatory drinking water dispensers). Place an airline paper napkin in the bottom of this wax-coated cup. Pour boiling water to cover the paper napkin. If you quickly pour off the water, the napkin will steam. After you ensure that every drop of hot water has drained off, tip your head and place the little cup with hot steam over your ear. Ear blocks and ear pain will subside in minutes as the steam reaches your eustachian tube. This is really effective.
  2. OR
  3. You can hold a heating pad wrapped in a thin towel next to your blocked ear.

Some other helpful tips -on flight are:

  1. Yawn or chew gum to clear that full-ear feeling during take off and landing.
  2. Try pinching your nose and pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth backwards. This is called the Frenzel maneuver and this helps especially inflight.

answered by P P

Warning: does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. see additional information
Read more questions in Health Advice