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Why do my inner ears ache terribly when it's cold and when i'm on a plane (agonizing, tear-inducing pain)? When outside, the aching is worse when it' windy. On a plane, the ears feel like they are going to burst. It reduces me to tears. On the plane, the

3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Tal Dagan
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
2 doctors agree

In brief: The

The two situations you describe are different.
The reason why you feel pain in the ears when it is cold had to do with the fact that both the skin of the ear canal is very thin and overlies bone which means it doesn't have much of an insulating fatty layer underneath like other sites in the body. Second, the ear drum is very sensitive to temperature changes again because it is very thin and this can result in either pain or dizziness when exposed to low temperatures. Air travel and scuba diving cause changes on the barometric pressure (air pressure or water pressure around you). As we go from high altitude to low altitude, we go from areas of low pressure to higher pressure (think about the weight of the gasses around you pressing from above) and as we descend under water while diving, the pressure of water pressing on us increases as well. Increases in pressure necessitate air filled cavities on the middle ear and sinuses to equalize pressure between the outside and the inside. If pressure is more equalized, the lining of these spaces is under increasing negative pressures (relative vacuum) which will damage them and can cause bleeding and inflammation and resulting pain. The pressure you feel intend forehead and cheekbones arises from the pressure build up in your sinuses and the pressure in the ears is commonly from the middle ear space. The way to prevent pain in the cold is to protect your ears with a hat or eat muffs, and if you are sensitive to the changes of pressure during a flight, try afrin nasal spray (nasal decongestant) half an hour before the flight to each nostril. During the flight try to chew gum, swallow, yawn or pop your ears (hold your nose shut by squeezing your nostrils with your fingers and close your mouth, then try to blow air out without actually letting any air out like staying at the stool, this will pop your ears) upon descent of the airplane. If you get ear or sinus complaints while diving, you should avoid diving because of the damages it will cause to your ears and sinuses.

In brief: The

The two situations you describe are different.
The reason why you feel pain in the ears when it is cold had to do with the fact that both the skin of the ear canal is very thin and overlies bone which means it doesn't have much of an insulating fatty layer underneath like other sites in the body. Second, the ear drum is very sensitive to temperature changes again because it is very thin and this can result in either pain or dizziness when exposed to low temperatures. Air travel and scuba diving cause changes on the barometric pressure (air pressure or water pressure around you). As we go from high altitude to low altitude, we go from areas of low pressure to higher pressure (think about the weight of the gasses around you pressing from above) and as we descend under water while diving, the pressure of water pressing on us increases as well. Increases in pressure necessitate air filled cavities on the middle ear and sinuses to equalize pressure between the outside and the inside. If pressure is more equalized, the lining of these spaces is under increasing negative pressures (relative vacuum) which will damage them and can cause bleeding and inflammation and resulting pain. The pressure you feel intend forehead and cheekbones arises from the pressure build up in your sinuses and the pressure in the ears is commonly from the middle ear space. The way to prevent pain in the cold is to protect your ears with a hat or eat muffs, and if you are sensitive to the changes of pressure during a flight, try afrin nasal spray (nasal decongestant) half an hour before the flight to each nostril. During the flight try to chew gum, swallow, yawn or pop your ears (hold your nose shut by squeezing your nostrils with your fingers and close your mouth, then try to blow air out without actually letting any air out like staying at the stool, this will pop your ears) upon descent of the airplane. If you get ear or sinus complaints while diving, you should avoid diving because of the damages it will cause to your ears and sinuses.
Dr. Tal Dagan
Dr. Tal Dagan
Thank
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry

In brief: The

The last doctor provided you with excellent information.
There is a manuever you can try if you are in pain. Ask the airlplane attendant to pour boiling or extremely hot water on paper towels resting in the bottom of disposable cups. Hold the open end of the cup over your ear. This will allow the warmth from the paper towels to travel toward your middle ear. Hopefully that temperature change will be sufficient to open the eustacian tubes if combined with a small amount of pressure while holding the nose.

In brief: The

The last doctor provided you with excellent information.
There is a manuever you can try if you are in pain. Ask the airlplane attendant to pour boiling or extremely hot water on paper towels resting in the bottom of disposable cups. Hold the open end of the cup over your ear. This will allow the warmth from the paper towels to travel toward your middle ear. Hopefully that temperature change will be sufficient to open the eustacian tubes if combined with a small amount of pressure while holding the nose.
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Thank
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