During flights, passengers may experience popping, sometimes painful ear pressure, known by the medical term barotrauma. As a plane takes off and lands, rapid air pressure changes inside the cabin increase the pressure in the middle ear. The Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the pharynx, equalizes pressure on both sides of the eardrum by allowing the release of air and drawing in air from the nasal passages. Fortunately, you can stop – and prevent – your ears from popping through relatively simple means.
Before the flight, take a decongestant, which will help clear the Eustachian tube if you have a cold and are "stuffed up." If you're very congested, consider postponing your flight because discomfort or pain can be considerable. In addition, the rapid pressure changes could permanently damage your eardrums.
Pinch your nose and blow gently with your mouth closed to reduce pressure inside the ear. According to SkynetMD, children and adults older than 8 years of age can open up the Eustachian tube by blowing softly into a balloon.
Breastfeed your infant to prevent him from experiencing painful ear popping, says SkynetMD. You can also give him a pacifier or a bottle of milk.