While travelling by aeroplane or climbing mountains we might have temporary ear blockage, which is not associated with loss of hearing though. This happens due to an imbalance in air pressure. Let’s see how it happens.
Ear comprises of three parts –external, middle and internal ear. And for normal hearing, we need to have proper air balance in the middle as well as the external ear. The ‘hearing mechanism’ works like this: A membrane called Tympanic membrane separates the middle ear from the external ear. The middle ear is connected with the upper part of the Pharynx by a tube called the Eustachian tube. Now, when we breathe in, a portion of the air enters the middle ear through this tube. So to balance the pressure within the ear for normal hearing, some amount of air also enters the external ear through the external auditory canal.
But when in a flight or on higher altitudes, the atmospheric pressure inside the middle ear remains the same, while that on the outside reduces, resulting in a pressure imbalance causing temporary ear blockage.