Ear Popping: Techniques and Tips for Relief


Have you ever experienced the sensation of your ears “popping” as if you’re in an airplane or elevator? Ear popping is a natural response to changes in pressure in the middle ear and can be caused by a variety of factors, from normal everyday movement to seasonal allergies or sinus infections. While ear popping is usually harmless, it can be uncomfortable and distracting, especially if it persists. The good news is that there are many techniques you can use to equalize pressure and relieve ear popping, ranging from simple movements to medical procedures.

Swallowing, Yawning, and Chewing Gum

One of the easiest and most effective ways to relieve ear popping is by simply swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum. These activities cause your Eustachian tubes, which connect your middle ear to the back of your throat, to open and close. When the tubes open, air can flow into or out of the middle ear, equalizing the pressure and reducing popping. To maximize the effectiveness of these techniques, try drinking water before swallowing or chewing sugar-free gum. These will help stimulate the production of saliva and mucus, which can also aid in equalizing pressure. The best part? These activities are safe and can be done by anyone without any risk of harm.

Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver is a technique that may be especially helpful if other methods fail to work. To use the Valsalva maneuver, pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers and keep your mouth closed. Then, try to exhale gently through your nose, building up pressure in the middle ear. This pressure can help open the Eustachian tubes, equalizing the pressure and reducing popping. However, it’s important to note that this technique may not be safe for everyone, especially if you have a medical condition like high blood pressure or a heart condition.

Toynbee Maneuver

The Toynbee maneuver is a technique that involves swallowing repeatedly while pinching your nose and keeping your mouth closed. Like the Valsalva maneuver, this technique can help regulate pressure in the middle ear and relieve popping. Many people find this technique helpful before flying or during colds, when the risk of ear popping may be higher. However, as with the Valsalva maneuver, it’s important to use the Toynbee maneuver with caution, as repetitive swallowing can sometimes exacerbate ear issues.

Nasal Decongestants

If ear popping is caused by congestion or inflammation in the nasal passages, a nasal decongestant may be an effective solution. Decongestants work by reducing inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, which can help relieve pressure and reduce popping. However, it’s important to use these medications with caution, as overuse can lead to rebound congestion and other side effects. If you decide to use a nasal decongestant, follow the dosage instructions carefully and avoid long-term use.

Ear Irrigation

Ear irrigation is a technique that involves using warm water or saline solution to flush out your ears. This technique can be helpful if your ear popping is caused by a blockage or excessive earwax. However, it’s important to note that ear irrigation should only be performed by a medical professional, as trying to do it yourself can be dangerous and potentially damaging to your eardrum and hearing.

Ear Candling

Ear candling is a technique that involves inserting a cone-shaped candle into the ear canal and lighting the other end. The idea behind this technique is that the heat from the candle will create a vacuum that pulls earwax and other debris out of the ear. However, ear candling is not recommended, as it is not supported by scientific evidence and can be dangerous. In fact, the FDA has issued warnings against the use of ear candles, citing risk of burns, injury to the ear canal, and other potential complications.

Eustachian Tube Exercises

Eustachian tube exercises are a series of movements and techniques designed to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the Eustachian tubes and improve pressure regulation. For example, one popular exercise is the “yawning” exercise, where you open your mouth as wide as possible and essentially pretend to yawn without actually vocalizing. Another is the Frenzel maneuver, where you close your nostrils and swallow while making a “k” sound with your throat. However, it’s important to note that these exercises may not be appropriate for everyone and should only be performed under medical supervision.

Eustachian Tube Balloon Dilation

Eustachian tube balloon dilation is a medical procedure that can be helpful for people experiencing chronic or severe ear popping. During this outpatient procedure, a small balloon is inserted into the Eustachian tube and then inflated, which can help improve the tube’s function and reduce popping. While this procedure is generally safe, it may not be appropriate for everyone, and there are some potential risks and side effects to be aware of, such as ear discomfort or bleeding.


Ear popping can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but there are many techniques and options available to help you find relief. From simple movements like swallowing and yawning to medical procedures like Eustachian tube balloon dilation, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to ear popping. If you’re experiencing chronic ear problems or have concerns about your ears, it’s important to speak with your doctor or a medical professional. With the right techniques and guidance, you can take control of your ear health and find long-lasting relief.

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