I have tried

  • drinking a glass of water
  • yawning
  • plugging my nostrils and pushing air

but none of these seem to work - I still have a distinct pain in my upper sinus cavities when changing pressure in an airplane. I have the same pain underwater.

Do some pilots have this problem, and do they have a remedy?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you haven't already, you should also try asking this in a diving forum. Equalizing is usually a much bigger issue for divers than pilots, so you're likely to get a good response there. This is a good place to start, DAN is a great resource for dive medical information and support. And see this question too. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 21:59
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ (Amateur) advanced diver here. You should consult a doctor. Not being to equalise normally. for example with the Valsalva manoeuvre may indicate an underlying condition. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 22:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I know that I am more sensitive to pressure changes when I have a cold. A closed eustachian tube makes all the difference. What helps me most is moving my jawbone left and right - this opens up the tube and helps to equalize pressure. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Over time you just get used to it. But you can do the valsalva trick and plug your nose and blow. Chewing gum and talking help too. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2016 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ Me, I stay low. Under 5000 AGL if I can help it, and I never, ever fly commercial anymore, those commercial jets yank the air pressure all over the place way too fast. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2016 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


There is a chance you suffer from aerosinusitis but you should consult a physician to obtain a proper diagnosis (Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor). For what its worth commercial planes are pressurized generally to about the pressure you would see at 8000 ft. this equates to about .75 Atm. In the reverse case 33ft underwater already has you at 2 Atm.

When I fly (generally unpressurized) I usually chew gum which i find helps.

  • $\begingroup$ I do this also for high altitude climbing. I find it very useful at adjustments to pressure. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 13:48

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