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How to Pop Your Ears: 10 Simple Ways

Humans go through different circumstances when it comes to their health, life, and habits, but there is something everyone can say they have probably experienced at some point.

It is that sensation where you feel like your ears are about to explode, but they need an extra boost. It requires you to step in and get that much-needed relief-the ear pop.

Many experience this sensation when flying, as the air pressure of going high up creates the need to pop your ears. When it comes to flying, they may pop themselves, without your assistance.

Another way to need to pop your ears may arise is with any activity where you are at an elevation beyond your comfort. That could be anything from rock climbing, sky diving, or even traveling to a new location with a higher elevation.

For example, those who travel to Peru can typically experience some discomfort if they are used to being at a lower elevation.

How to Pop Your Ears?

Do you fly often or notice the need to pop your ears throughout the day? Find some simple solutions to pop your ears fast, as well as what happens when you pop your ears if it is safe and more.

1. Yawn

Yawning may seem like a much-too-simple solution to popping your ears, but it can be great for quick relief.

The eustachian tube, also known as the pharyngotympanic tube, connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat. Yawning helps stop ears from popping because it helps to open the eustachian tube and relieve the pressure that builds up. (1)

The eustachian tube must be open and healthy to maintain overall health and proper middle ear function. If your ears pop frequently, it could be a sign of a blockage in the eustachian tube. That can also produce a crackling sound in the ear canal.

If you must pop your ears, yawning can be the most accessible option for anyone. Whether you are on a plane or reaching higher altitudes, yawning can be especially helpful whenever the situation presents itself.

 

2. Swallow a Few Times

If you suffer from ear popping only infrequently, there are many simple solutions to pooping them. One is swallowing liquid or saliva a few times in a row to relieve the pressure built up in the ear canal.

That helps because it allows small air bubbles in the ear canal to move towards the ear from the nose. Along with ear-popping from swallowing, you may also notice a click in the ear as it occurs.

The next time you are flying on a plane or at a high altitude or need to pop your ears, try this simple solution before resorting to more drastic measures.

3. Try a Nasal Decongestant

Nasal decongestants can bring much-needed relief for colds, sinus pressure, and even popping your ears. Some examples of nasal decongestants that can be helpful include Sudafed, Afrin, Vicks, Sinex, and more.

Nasal decongestants work well for popping ears because it helps to relieve a buildup of pressure from the nose to the throat and eventually makes enough space to come out the ears. They also ease sinus blockage, allowing air to pass through the ears. Nasal decongestants can even help relieve middle ear infections. (2)

This method is not necessary for everyone, although it can be helpful for those who experience this issue more frequently. Ask your doctor if trying one of these nasal decongestants is right for you to help relieve ear pooping in the future.

4. Chew Gum

Chewing gum is one of the oldest tricks for many health blips. Chewing gum can help with reducing cravings, curing boredom, avoiding cavities if xylitol gum (3), and even popping your ears.

This habit goes together with swallowing more. Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva you produce, making it easier for your ears to pop.

The next time you are on a plane or find your ears need relief, be sure to have some gum on hand to quickly squash that problem.

5. Try Ear Plugs

Earplugs are not only great when working around loud noises or trying to get to bed earlier when your partner is snoring. They can be useful at diminishing ear-popping as well.

Earplugs can help relieve and pop your ears by allowing pressure to release naturally and effectively.

Did you know that ear-popping on planes is known as “airplane ear?” A safe solution to preventing airplane ear is to make sure to use your earplugs. (4)

That is the reason why many people bring earplugs on planes. Having earplugs around may not be a bad idea for your next travel destination, especially if you prone to ear-popping. They can also be useful for those who experience this issue more frequently.

6. Toynbee maneuver (Pinch the nose and swallow)

There is a maneuver to popping the ears that can be helpful for many. It involves pinching the nose and swallowing.

To best utilize Toynbee maneuver, carefully pinch the nose and swallow at the same time. That method will release pressure buildup, and it can give you instant relief. Although, you should only resort to this method if advised by a doctor, and all other simple ways do not work. This maneuver can be a potential cause of middle ear disease. (5)

If you experience ear popping on a frequent and regular basis, make sure to consult your doctor to make sure you do not have any underlying inner or middle ear infections or problems.

7. Valsalva maneuver (Pinch the nose and blow air out the mouth)

Another popular method to pop your ears is the Valsalva maneuver or pinching the nose and blowing out air through the mouth at the same time.

Pinching the nose and blowing air out the mouth is another simple way to relieve pressure buildup out of the ears.

This method can even improve muscle strength when exhibited with voluntary breathing techniques. (6)

8. Frenzel maneuver (Pinch the nose and get the tongue involved)

With the Frenzel maneuver, you want to gently pinch the nose and push it to the back of the mouth at the same time. It works by forcing the air to the throat.

That method works because the vocal cord is closed, making it easier to push the air into the nasal cavity. That creates enough pressure to equalize the tubes and equalize the pressure in the middle ear.

9. Try an Otovent

There are other options to pop your ears as well, including an Otovent. An Otovent is an auto inflation device that helps to minimize pressure build up in the ear canal.

This device is popular to help with flights and even activities like scuba diving. It helps to equalize pressure in the eustachian tubes.

Consult with your doctor if you are experiencing the need to pop your ears frequently and ask about your options when it comes to trying an Otovent.

10. Get a Different Ear Popper Device

The Otovent is not the only ear-popping device on the market. There are many other options available.

One other example of ear-popping devices includes the Eustachi, which also helps exercise the eustachian tubes.

There are many other name-brand and over-the-counter ear poppers available as well. Find out what device, if any, works for you in relieving pressure build up in the ear canals.

Is it Safe to Pop Your Ears?

Popping your ears is generally a safe practice to try. However, are a few things to keep in mind when popping your ears, whether you are using a device or a simple solution like one of the maneuver tricks above.

One takeaway about popping your ears is to always be gentle in whatever method you choose. The ear canals are extremely sensitive, and being too rough or careless with these methods can affect the overall health of your eardrums.

Some rare side effects that can happen when the middle ear stays blocked include:

  • Severe pain
  • Vertigo
  • A burst eardrum
  • Hearing loss

Overall, it is safe to pop your ears, but always be mindful of the pressure and keeping your eustachian tubes open.

There may be difficulty with popping ears because of wax buildup, fluid, congestion, and more.

If symptoms persist after trying these methods, be sure to stop trying and consult with your healthcare practitioner.

What Happens When You Pop Your Ears?

A few things happen when you pop your ears. First, it helps to understand the anatomy of the ear a bit. The ear contains three parts, the inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear.

When you feel the need to pop your ears, it occurs in the middle ear, where the eardrum or the eustachian tubes. When air passes through the eustachian tube, it opens and closes, linking the inner ear to the back of the throat.

The most common reasons you need to pop your ears are when underwater, in high altitudes such as on a plane, and other similar circumstances.

Conclusion

There are many ways to pop your ears safely and effectively. You can either try an easy method or with assistance from a device.

Be sure to reach out to a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any of these symptoms persist even after trying these methods.

Always be sure to be careful and gentle in your approach.

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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, and written, fact-checked & medically reviewed by health experts.

Throughout this article, you'll find scientific references (clickable links to highly trusted peer-reviewed scientific papers, links denoted by the numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3)).