Can a Balloon Relieve Ear Pressure when Flying?

Dr. Jordan Pritikin Discusses New Procedure for Ear Discomfort

Both frequent fliers and sporadic travelers alike are familiar with the discomfort related to the changing air pressure. While chewing gum during a flight may help some individuals, others need an alternative way to relieve refractory middle ear pressure symptoms. Dr. Jordan Pritikin, a board-certified otolaryngologist at The Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center, discusses an emerging solution for ear pressure discomfort; a transnasal balloon catheter dilation of the Eustachian tube.

“Ear drops, antihistamines or decongestants sometimes help alleviate symptoms of ear discomfort, but they aren’t always enough and a long-term, more permanent solution is ideal for those with chronic issues,” says Dr. Pritikin. “Similar to a stent for the heart or sinuses, this new balloon catheter technology would help open the Eustachian tube in the ear to relieve pressure.”

With a balloon catheter in the ear, chronic ear pain symptoms including pressure, fullness or otitic barotrauma could significantly decrease. In addition, Dr. Pritikin continues to explain that a recent academic study resulted in 71 percent of patients showing notable improvement or reduction in symptoms. “The procedure is still in the early stages of development, but it has the potential to be a lifesaver for frequent fliers who experience chronic ear discomfort and the recent study showed lasting improvements after a follow-up of more than 30 weeks,” continues Dr. Pritikin.

About Dr. Jordan Pritikin
Dr. Jordan Pritikin is a board-certified otolaryngologist at Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center, a private medical practice devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of nasal and sinus disorders. Dr. Pritikin is a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and attended Rush Medical College in Chicago, where he was selected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Society. Over the years, Dr. Pritikin has cultivated an interest in Rhinology, focusing his practice on diseases of the nose and sinuses, and has participated in clinical research exploring innovative therapies for chronic sinusitis. He has lectured at local and national meetings, developed informational and training videos demonstrating surgical techniques for the nose and sinuses, and has helped develop and refine instruments designed for sinus surgery. Dr. Pritikin and the Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center offer patients an unparalleled level of service, utilizing state-of-the art technology and innovative treatments while maintaining a thoughtful and caring approach. For more information visit