Ear Barotrauma refers to the sensation of your ears feeling full and clogged. This usually happens when you are moving towards places with higher altitudes. Know how to pop ears.
It can occur while you are in a plane that is just leaving the runway or in a car going uphill. Whenever you experience the feeling of your ears being clogged, you feel the need to pop them. Clogged ears can affect your hearing power and make you uncomfortable.
At times, moving your mouth muscles can pop your ears open. However, at other times, you might have to try some other techniques.
Whichever technique you use, we suggest that you pop your ears gently to ensure that they are not hurt.
Are you one of those people who are annoyed by the constant clogging of your ears? If yes, then you are exactly where you want to be! We’re going to discuss some reliable ear popping techniques that can rid you of your discomfort. Let’s have a look.
Ways to Pop Your Ears
There are a plethora of safe techniques that you can use to pop your ears:
Yawning adjusts the pressure of your ears and thus, aids in opening the Eustachian tubes. Yawning is something that comes naturally to all humans. However, if you don’t feel a yawn coming your way, try to do it on your own.
Simply open your mouth wider than you usually would while yawning and continue to yawn until your ears pop open. Yawn away, people!
2. Swallowing and Chewing:
Swallowing is a tried and tested technique of popping open the ears. You can either simply fake swallowing with nothing in your mouth or actually swallow food items.
Chewing is another technique that helps in popping open your ears. Simply chew gum or toffee and your ears will pop open. The science behind swallowing and chewing is that both these activities activate the muscles of your Eustachian tube.
They regulate the pressure in your middle ear to open the tube.
3. The Frenzel Maneuver:
World War II pilots used this technique in 1938. These days, free divers commonly use this technique. It basically equalizes the pressure in your middle ear.
All you have to do is hold or pinch your nose using your thumb and fingers. Then, make a ‘K’ sound by touching your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
4. The Toynbee Maneuver:
Even this maneuver is pretty simple to perform and is very effective in popping open your ears. Repeat the same step as you did in the frenzel maneuver i.e. pinch your nose tightly. Then, proceed to swallow with your mouth closed.
Continue doing this until your ears pop open. All of the maneuver techniques are very effective. However, you can choose which technique works best for you. Even a combination of the three can do wonders!
5. The Valsalva Maneuver:
A majority of people use this technique to pop open their ears. Once you get the grip of this technique, you wouldn’t try any other!
This method builds up pressure at the end of your nose. This aids in opening and unclogging your Eustachian tube. Start by taking a deep breath.
Next, pinch your nose and close your mouth. Your cheeks should not be puffed out. Keep them normal and proceed to breathe through your nose. Be very gentle as you might end up hurting your eardrum.
A number of people with regular ear clogging issues such as travelers choose to take nasal decongestants or steroids:
- If you are a regular airplane traveler, your doctor might prescribe you an oral medicine or a nasal spray.
- If you choose to take an OTC nasal decongestant, it helps in opening your ears through unclogging your nose.
- If you decide to take a nasal steroid, don’t do it without a prescription as steroids can be harmful for your body. Steroids work by reducing your nasal passageway swelling and opening up your Eustachian tubes.
- Doctors suggest that you should take medication about half an hour prior to your plane take-off or uphill drive. Do not sleep during this time as sleeping slows down the working of your muscles. Lack of swallowing and slow breathing can clog the ears more easily.
- You need to decide which method works best for you as a person.
When to See a Doctor
Clogged ears are a very common phenomenon. Almost every person experiences this in his or her daily lives. Clogged ears can occur due to a reason as simple as getting some water into your ears while taking a bath or showering.
This can also happen while swimming, driving uphill, during a plane ride and many other instances. Usually, one of the aforementioned techniques can easily pop your ears open.
However, if ear popping doesn’t work for you, you might have to book an appointment with your doctor. Most importantly, if your ears don’t pop open after a few tries, don’t try to force them open. Be gentle.
Let us look at some of the signs that indicate that you might have to visit a doctor to unclog your ears:
- If you are unable to pop open your ears for days on end despite trying ear-popping techniques, you should visit a doctor.
- In addition, if you experience pain or while trying to unclog your ears, a visit to your doctor must be due.
- Any weird sensations or discomfort in your ears along with clogging also warrants a visit to an ENT specialist.
The doctor can prescribe you oral medication or some nasal sprays. In extreme cases, your doctor might recommend ventilation tubes. This process eliminates the fluid from your ears and reduces the extra pressure. Alternatively, you might have to undergo surgery to drain the liquid.
The Final Word
Ear popping techniques are usually effective for a majority of people. However, you need to be very gentle while attempting any of the techniques as you might end up harming your eardrum.
In case your ears don’t pop open even after a week or so, consult your doctor before the situation gets worse. He will prescribe you oral medicines or nasal decongestants to alleviate your symptoms. In acute cases, you might have to undergo surgery.
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