Your doctor will likely be able to make a diagnosis based on questions he or she asks and an examination of your ear with a lighted instrument (otoscope). Signs of airplane ear might include a slight outward or inward bulging of your eardrum. If your condition is more severe, your doctor may see a tear in the eardrum or a pooling of blood or other fluids behind your eardrum.

If you're experiencing a spinning sensation (vertigo), there may be damage to structures of your inner ear. Your doctor may suggest a hearing test (audiometry) to determine how well you detect sounds and whether the source of hearing problems is in the inner ear.

April 27, 2016
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  2. Ears and altitude. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/ears-and-altitude. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.
  3. Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Ear, nose, and throat disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2016. 55th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2016. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.