How to Pop Ears: Tips and Causes of Popping Ears

By Emma |
|5 min read

In the middle of your ears, there is a tube known as the Eustachian tube which connects the inner ear with the throat. This tube helps in regulating air pressure within the ears. But when there is a Eustachian tube dysfunction, ear blockage, clogging, or ear fullness feeling results which require ear popping to restore normalcy. This popping action helps to open the Eustachian tube thus regulating the pressure inside your middle ear. When flying or driving up a mountain, you will experience this ear fullness or clogging due to changes in altitudinal pressure. This condition is known as barotrauma on medical grounds.

Best Tips to Pop Ears

In case there is pressure imbalance within the Eustachian tube, the discomfort that results leaves many concerned on how to pop ears. Below are the best tips to pop your ears.

1. Swallow

The Eustachian tube is connected to muscles located around your throat. When the Eustachian tube gets clogged, swallowing activates the movement of those muscles which results to ear popping. It is a simple process but has a significant advantage. Swallowing can result in ear blockage relief.

2. Yawn

The idea here is to activate the muscles connected to the Eustachian tubes. The point is you have to open your mouth as wide as you can as though you are trying to produce the sound "ah”. Remember, your mouth should form an "O” shape. If the popping is not felt, repeat the process again until your ears pop.

3. Valsalva maneuver

That name sound complicated right? But a valsalva maneuver action is simple and helps to restore the pressure within your Eustachian tube easily. All you have to do is to close your nose by pinching it at the edge, and then to try to exhale gently through the pinched nostrils. This action helps equalize the pressure within your Eustachian tube and the one of outside environment easily through popping.

4. Toynbee maneuver

This is somehow similar to valsalva maneuver in terms of how to pop ears but done in a different procedure. To do a toynbee maneuver, you need to pinch your nostrils gently but ensure they are closed entirely. Then, put something in your mouth, maybe a piece of bread, pie, or anything you can swallow. As you swallow while your nostrils are closed, you will feel your ears pop.

5. Warm washcloth

If your ears are clogged or blocked due to flu, an allergy or a cold, holding a warm washcloth against your ears will entirely do away with that congestion. Anything warm, whether it be a heating pad or a warm washcloth will do away with this ear issue.

6. Chewing gum

Do you experience ear clogging or blockage while in a flight or when driving up a hill? Chewing can help neutralize that altitudinal pressure change. The movement of jaws during the chewing process makes the Eustachian tube adapt to the change of altitudinal pressure through ear popping.

Identify Causes of Popping Ears

Knowing how to pop your ears is very important. Ear clogging or blockage might not cause pain but why should you strain to hear or struggle with muffled sound? You need to understand the causes of this ear clogging or blockage to be able to pop your ears or avoid any blockage. Below are the causes.

1. Eustachian tube blockage

The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear with the throat. That is how fluid secretions and mucus find their way out of the middle ear. In case these secretions (both fluids and mucus) do not flow down the throat, but instead get trapped and remain in the middle ear, they result in ear clogging or blockage. Additionally, this blockage can get infected by influenza, sinusitis or common cold infections.

2. Changing air pressure

One primary purpose or function of the Eustachian tube is to regulate or equalize the pressure within the middle ear part and that of the atmosphere. But in some instances like when you are flying, driving, or riding up a mountain, the Eustachian tube experiences difficulty in regulating or equalizing that pressure at high altitudes.

3. Nasal allergies

Mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander are the main cause of nasal allergies. When you get infected with nasal allergy, the reaction causes inflammation, swelling, and congestion of nasal lining tissues which exacts pressure on Eustachian tubes. That pressure is what blocks the tube making it difficult to regulate the pressure inside your middle ear.

4. Chronic Sinusitis

If you happen to suffer from chronic sinusitis, the issue of how to unpop your ears becomes more of a concern. Chronic sinusitis infection results in inflammation of nose tissue lining which exacts pressure on the Eustachian tube. That pressure is what causes Eustachian tube clogging and blockage.

5. Earwax

Earwax does help to clean the inner ear part and prevent debris from getting into the ear canal. If this wax hardens up, it can cause Eustachian tube clogging and blockage. This necessitates ear popping to unclog your ears. Cleaning the wax using cotton swabs is vital and does help more than ear popping.

Ear blocking or clogging is never a pleasant thing but it should not cause any worry. Simple remedies or relief tips and OTC do help. But in case your ears remain clogged even after trying most of the assistance named above, you need to seek a doctor's help.



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