Why Do Your Ears Pop? Here Are Some Reasons You Should Know | Kidadl

FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS

Why Do Your Ears Pop? Here Are Some Reasons You Should Know

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The human ear is one of the five sense organs.

Ears help us to hear. The human ear is divided into three parts: the outer ear, inner ear, and middle ear.

The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. Everyone has experienced the uncomfortable and irritating sensation of having clogged ears that need to be popped. Ear barotrauma is the clinical term for this. When there is pressure build-up in the Eustachian tubes, our ears pop. Mucus also plays a role here. Mucus leads to clogging, which leads to cracking or popping of the ear. Usually, ears unclog on their own. However, in some instances, ears do not become unclogged on their own. This might cause discomfort. Luckily, we can unclog our ears on our own without any medical treatment. In this article, you will learn how to open your Eustachian tube and how to pop your ears safely.

How to pop your ears?

Having to deal with stuffed ears is one of the worst things. Don't worry, we've got you! Here are some ways to safely pop your ears.

Swallowing: A narrow passage connects the middle part of an ear with the eardrum. It is called the Eustachian tube. When you have stuffed ears, this tube gets clogged. Swallowing will open up the Eustachian tube.

Yawning: Yawning will also help to open the Eustachian tube. When ears have been clogged for a while, a person can force themself to yawn.

Valsalva Maneuver: This is nothing but a breathing method. Start by gulping a mouthful of air. Pinch your nostrils by using your fingers. Now blow the air while keeping your mouth and nostrils closed. Repeat this several times for 10-20 seconds.

Toynbee Maneuver: As the names indicate, the Valsalva maneuver and Toynbee maneuver are quite similar. Pinch your nose and close your nostrils while swallowing.

Warm Cloth: Use this method to release the congestion caused by cold. Use a cloth soaked in warm water or heating pads. Place it against your ear, and this will open the Eustachian tube.

Decongestants: When you clean your ears, it helps to unclog your nasal passageways. Decongestants have pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. A decongestant is a type of medicine that provides immediate but only short-term relief for clogged ears. Before using a decongestant, try the Valsalva or Toynbee maneuver.

Nasal Corticosteroids: They are cortisone-like medicines. These steroids, when used properly, are absolutely safe. Nasal steroids reduce the inflammation in nasal passages. They also equalize the pressure in the ears. This helps the air to flow freely through the Eustachian tube and unclogs the ear.

Ventilation Tubes: This is a 10-minute procedure that is suggested only in serious cases. This surgical technique involves the insertion of thin ventilation tubes or pressure-equalizing (PE) tubes. These tubes can be inserted into one or both ears. A doctor uses these tubes to reduce the air pressure and eliminate pain by draining the excess fluid in the ears. The PE tubes fall out on their own after a year or two. A doctor will generally administer anesthetics before starting the procedure.

If you are skeptical about using these methods, you can also use medical devices to get rid of this annoying sensation. Special earplugs, otovent, and ear poppers are some of the devices that pop your ears safely.

Why do your ears pop when you swallow?

When you swallow, food, water, and saliva pass through your throat.

As a result, the Eustachian tube naturally opens and your ears pop. Air enters the middle ear by passing through the Eustachian tube. You will hear a clicking sound or popping sound. Pressure in the ears equalizes while swallowing, and this produces a crackling sound. You may also experience pain while you swallow when you have a mouth, nose, or ear infection. Your ears may hurt and this is extremely common in kids. Painkillers, a warm or cold compress, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are different types of treatment for this pain.

Chewing gum helps equalize the pressure in the ears.

What does it mean when your ears pop?

There is a small amount of air trapped in your middle ear. The difference in the air pressure within the ears and atmosphere is negligible. The pressure on both sides of an eardrum is almost equal under normal circumstances.

There are instances where the air pressure of the atmosphere drops. When you ascend or descend in a plane or when you climb a hill, the atmospheric pressure decreases, but the middle ear pressure remains the same. The change in air pressure places strain on an eardrum. As a result, the eardrum is pushed inwards (on descent) or outwards (on ascent) causing the air pressure in the middle ear to expand in relation to the air in the atmosphere. This expansion causes a popping sensation in the ears. When this happens, hearing ability also decreases. The human body can equalize the middle ear pressure and atmospheric pressure. The human body does this by allowing a portion of the air trapped in the middle to pass through the Eustachian tubes. Ear popping can happen due to a variety of reasons. Pressure changes caused by the fluctuations in altitude are one of the major causes of ear-popping.

Did you know? Just like how chewing gum or sucking hard on a candy helps adults to equalize ear pressure and atmospheric pressure when on a plane, a pacifier helps kids pop their ears and adjust to the ascent and descent.

Is it bad to pop your ears?

Most medical experts state that popping your ears is neither good nor bad for you. It is safe when done in moderation.

Most of the time, Eustachian tubes will open on their own. It is only when Eustachian tubes are blocked that someone will have to use other methods to forcefully pop their ears. There are times when someone should absolutely refrain from popping their ears. There are a few reasons why some medical experts say ear popping is bad. Popping your ears when you are sick increases the chances of acquiring ear infections. Your nose and Eustachian tube are connected. Your nose has fluids and bacteria. If you pop your ears when you are sick, it will push air and other fluids from your nose to your ears. This can cause ear infections.

Popping your ears too hard can also tear your eardrums. Medical experts do not encourage the use of the hold-your-nose-and-breathe technique. Only a fixed amount of air can pass through an eardrum. If you blow too hard while using this technique to force air through your Eustachian tube, it could tear your eardrum. Ear popping is also good as it helps to equalize air pressure. When air pressure in your ears is not equalized, the ends of the Eustachian tube are blocked. When this happens, fluid can enter from the membranes to overcome the vacuum. This condition is called fluid in the ear, serous otitis, or aero-otitis. It can sometimes cause hearing loss, ear pain, or dizziness.

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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