What is the Eustachian tube?

The eustachian tube (tuba auditiva), also known as the “ear trumpet”, is the  tube-like connecting passage between the middle ear and the nose and throat. It was named after its discoverer, the Italian doctor and anatomist Bartolomeo Eustachio (1524 to 1574). The external auditory canal is closed on the inside by the sensitive and elastic skin of the eardrum. Behind it is the middle ear, which is followed by the Eustachian tube.

Its length is approximately 3.75 centimeters. This continuous connection between the middle ear and the pharynx is responsible for the pressure equalization between the ears, nose and the outside world (e.g. external air pressure).

Why sweets are often distributed on airplanes

The Eustachian tube often reacts sensitively to changing pressure conditions. Normally, it opens when you swallow, chew or yawn and thus ensures the important  pressure equalization in the middle ear, for example on an airplane or when diving.

This also explains why some airlines, especially on long-haul flights,  distribute chewing gum  or sweets.

Flying isn’t good for a cold

If the eustachian tube is blocked, for example by a  cold , earache  and even injury to the eardrum can occur during a flight  .

Therefore, caution is advised when catching a cold. For runny noses, nose drops help to reduce swelling in the mucous membranes.

Nevertheless, if you have a bad cold, it’s better to bite the bullet (and healthier) and postpone the flight!


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