Sometimes when you’re on a plane, you’ll experience a piercing pain around your ears shortly after takeoff or descent. Usually, the pain subsides in a few minutes, with relief preceded by the sensation of your ears “popping.” This is called ear barotrauma. Quirky user Clark bish came up with the Equalizers earphones to prevent that discomfort.
Before we figure out how the Equalizers prevent ear barotrauma, let’s look at how the pain starts. Ear barotrauma may occur when the air pressure in your middle ear isn’t equal to the air pressure outside your body. This situation is usually a side effect of rapid changes in altitude, such as when you fly. If the difference in pressure reaches a certain point, your eardrum will bulge inward or outward, causing the piercing pain. Your hearing could also become muffled at this point. Your body solves this by forcing air into or out of the middle ear through a tube that connects to your nose and mouth, equalizing the pressure and causing the popping sensation.
Supposedly, the Equalizers will prevent ear barotrauma in two ways. First is by sealing off part of the outer ear so that the air pressure right outside the middle ear will stay constant, assuming you have the earphones on the whole flight. Second is through a miniature pump that will let you manually increase or decrease the pressure in your ears.
I don’t know if Clark’s idea will work, but it seems Quirky is already in the process of turning the Equalizers into an actual product. For now we’ll just have to stock up on chewing gum and decongestants.