Filip from Sweden has a question about an unpleasant accompaniment to flying:
My question is simple but yet hard to explain. It’s about the phenomenon “blocked ears,” or “cap of the ears” or whatever you might call it. You know when you land with an airplane and you feel there’s pressure inside your ear and after a while . . . the “bubble” bursts.
I guess you understand what it is I’m referring to. So, my question is, what is it really called? . . . What’s right, in both English and Latin?
I certainly know what Filip is referring to. Once my ears remained blocked for more than a week after a flight. That’s when I began carrying a big package of gum when flying. I chew furiously at take-off and upon landing. That seems to do the trick for me. No more blocked ears.
Since I didn’t know the medical term for this phenomenon, I decided to call it “airplane ears.” Apparently that’s a term that other people use. Here’s the definition from the Mayo Clinic site:
Airplane ear is the stress exerted on your eardrum (tympanic membrane) and other middle ear tissues when the air pressure in your middle ear and the air pressure in the environment are out of balance. You may experience airplane ear at the beginning of a flight when the airplane is climbing or at the end of a flight when the airplane is descending. These fast changes in altitude cause air pressure changes and can trigger airplane ear.
Airplane ear is also called ear barotrauma, barotitis media or aerotitis media.