Picture this: You're flying high above the Atlantic, en route to Paris, when suddenly you start to feel some discomfort in your eardrum. Discomfort turns to outright pain, and before you know it, you're clutching your ear in misery and cursing the day you bought a plane ticket to France. Sound fun? Not exactly. Airplane ear is a fairly common problem, and it can be incredibly painful. Luckily, though, there are plenty of preventative steps that travelers can take to avoid this issue -- starting with buying a quality pair of earplugs.

Why Protecting Your Ears on Flights Matters

As any traveler knows, when the air pressure changes during a flight, you may experience some mild discomfort in one ear or both. Though this sensation typically doesn't last long, it can be painful and potentially cause long-term complications, such as hearing loss, chronic pain or permanent damage to the inner ear tissues. Protecting your ears by yawning and swallowing during ascent and descent can help, but the best course of action is to purchase earplugs before your flight. Especially if you're prone to airplane ear (as many of us are) or have a cold while flying, a high-quality pair of earplugs can mean the difference between an enjoyable flight and a terrible one.

How to Choose the Right Type of Earplugs 

So, how should you select the right pair of earplugs for your next flight? To start, note that filtered earplugs are best; they help to equalize the pressure against your eardrum, which renders them perfect for flying. And EarPlanes earplugs, in particular, are the cream of the crop when it comes to ear protection. EarPlanes consist of two basic elements: a ceramic pressure regulator and a hypoallergenic silicone ear plug. During air travel, as the cabin pressure changes, the ceramic piece helps to regulate that pressure. This significantly reduces any inner ear discomfort that can come from altitude changes. And, bonus: EarPlanes are hypoallergenic, latex-free and super-comfy; plus, they effectively act as noise suppression ear plugs, making it that much easier to sleep or relax during a flight.

Where to Purchase EarPlanes Earplugs and How to Use Them

It's also important to know how to use these specialized earplugs before you take off. Simply pinch your nose and blow to clear your ears, before inserting. In addition, for best results, travelers should insert EarPlanes at least an hour before flying and remove immediately after landing. EarPlanes typically come in packs of three, and each pair is usable for a single round-trip flight. They're available at all major supermarkets, airport retailers and drugstores.