Having clogged ears can be uncomfortable and may muffle your hearing. When this happens, popping your ears may help.

Popping your ears is not dangerous. It usually requires little more than that. It is important to be gentle regardless of the technique you use. If your symptoms get worse, it is a good idea to seek medical help.

If you want to use an OTC or prescription medication, be sure to read the directions on the package. If your symptoms persist, you should talk to your doctor.

There are several ways to pop your ears.

Illustrations of ways to pop ears
Illustrated by Jason Hoffman


When you swallow, your muscles automatically work to open your eustachian tube. This tube connects the middle ear to the back of your nose. Opening the eustachian tube allows pressure to equalize in your middle ear, causing the popping feeling.

Consuming gum or hard candy can help in triggering this response.


Yawning also helps open the eustachian tube. If you can’t yawn on cue, try a fake yawn. Open your mouth wide while breathing in and out. This may have the same result. Try “yawning” every few minutes until your ear pops.

Valsalva maneuver

Pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers. Try to keep your cheeks neutral or pulled in rather than puffed out. Next, blow air gently through your nostrils. This generates pressure in the back of the nose, which may help open the eustachian tube.

Toynbee maneuver

For this technique, pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers while swallowing. A small 2017 study indicated that the Toynbee maneuver may be less effective than the Valsalva maneuver. However, you may want to try both to determine which method works best for you.

Applying a warm washcloth

Holding a warm washcloth or covered heating pad against your ear may help reduce pain if you have an ear infection. Placing it on your face may also help ease sinus pressure in the case of a sinus infection, a condition that can lead to feelings of fullness in your ears.

Nasal decongestants

Unclogging your nasal passageways can help with clogged ears. If you use an OTC nasal decongestant, it’s best to avoid taking it for more than 3 days in a row. You may want to try the Valsalva or Toynbee maneuver after using a decongestant.

Nasal corticosteroids

There are many OTC nasal steroids you can try. Nasal steroids may help unclog your ears by reducing the amount of inflammation in the nasal passages. This can help air move more freely through both eustachian tubes, equalizing the pressure in your ears.

Nasal steroids may be effective if your ears feel full as a result of a sinus infection. However, research indicates that they may not work for chronically clogged ears caused by eustachian tube dysfunction, also known as The tubes were blocked..

Ventilation tubes

In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend this simple surgical technique to ease pain.

For the procedure, your doctor will likely use local anesthesia to numb the area around your ears. Then, they’ll insert thin ventilation tubes, also known as pressure equalizing tubes or tympanostomy tubes, in one or both of your ears to drain fluid from behind the eardrum.

“The procedure is usually performed in a doctor’s office. They may perform it in the hospital. The manufacturers design the tubes. This happens after a year.”

The eustachian tube supplies air to the middle ear. This helps maintain equal amounts of pressure on both sides of the eardrum.

If there is a difference in pressure, your ear may bulge. The feeling of full ears can be caused by the pressure difference.

Popping your ears involves opening the eustachian tubes to relieve pressure.

The eustachian tubes open when you swallow, chew, or yawn. You will often hear a clicking or popping noise when you do these motions. The noise is caused by air entering the middle ear through the eustachian tubes.

The tubes may have obstructions if they are not easy to open. They are usually caused by fluid, mucus, or inflammation.

Tinnitus occurs when you experience ringing, buzzing, or other sounds that do not exist externally. Tinnitus can occur from the following causes:

  • There are infections in the ear and the nose.
  • earwax obstructing the ear canal
  • The tubes were blocked.
  • There are brain tumors.
  • Hearing loss
  • There are issues with the thyroid.

It is not possible to identify the cause of the ringing in the ears.

If you have a condition like Tinnitus, you can pop your ears. If the cause of tinnitus is the obstruction of the eustachian tubes, you may not be able to hear.

Your ears may be prone to getting stuck and causing problems. Changes in the air pressure are what causes this.

If you climb to a high altitude, your ears may pop as you adjust to the air pressure around you. Pressure changes in your ears can be caused by diving underwater.

“If your ears don’t pop on their own when you fly, you can clear them by chewing gum or yawning.”

Sometimes, the eustachian tubes might have trouble closing, instead of being blocked and unable to open. This condition, called patulous eustachian tube dysfunction, makes your voice and breathing sound loud in your ears. It can cause you to hear loud noises.

A build up of fluid in the middle ear can cause a feeling of popping ears.

Recovering from the condition may ease your symptoms.

If you develop any of the following, you should call a doctor.

Your doctor can rule out any underlying conditions that may contribute to the symptoms. Feelings of ear fullness might be caused by the following.

A clogged eardrum can sometimes bulge to the bursting point, leading to a perforated eardrum. This may occur from:

  • An earache.
  • Air travel is one of the activities involving rapid pressure changes.
  • Head trauma.

A doctor is needed for a perforated eardrum. Within a few weeks, this condition usually heals by itself. Some cases may need surgery.

If you are gentle, popping your ears is safe and effective. Ear popping works well. If you have a cold or a sore throat, you may want to take medication.