Un-popping ears is sometimes necessary with an increase or decrease in air pressure, resulting in a clogged Eustachian tube. Find safe ways to pop your ears with information from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on ear problems.
Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about something as annoying as heck. How to un-pop your ears when they feel clogged up? Now to understand that, you kind of have to understand what is happening in an ear, and for that, I have this model. Let's take a look, this is the part of the canal that you can get to, it's the External Auditory Canal. And unless there's a blockage in there, such as ear wax or a foreign body, this probably isn't the reason that you have a sense of fullness in the ear. One exception is Swimmer's Ear, usually that's painful, but if you've had a lot of exposure to water and you just feel like you can't pop your ears. You probably need a doctor to look at the External Auditory Canal and see if there's some form of inflammation. Next comes the ear drum and that forms a complete seal to the outside world. And usually, when you feel like you need to pop your ears, there's something going on in this area called the Middle Ear. Now two things can happen here, there can be increased or decreased air pressure or there can be a fluid collection or puss collection. The air pressure usually occurs when you're changing elevation or altitude rapidly, such as in a tall elevator or an airplane or even mountain climbing or skiing. And what happens is, there's this tube that connects the Middle Ear to the inside of the nose,it's called the Eustachian tube. And if it gets blocked up for some reason, air can't pass and the pressure can't equalize. That pulls on or pushes on the ear drum and that makes it feel like you can't hear, and sometimes it can even cause pain and discomfort. The idea is to try and move air, in or out of this canal. The easiest and least dangerous way to do that, is to yawn or chew or clench your jaw. That pulls on these tissues in the Eustachian tube, helps open the tub up and move air in or out. That's why chewing gum on an airplane, is something people sometimes recommend. If you have an infant or baby, they might want to suck on a bottle or chew on some sort chewing snack, as long as it's not a choking risk. And you can talk to your doctor about what those choking risks might be. Now if you've tried to introduce air that way, some people will hold their nose and try and force a little bit of air up into their ear drum, or pull air out of their ear drum. That's a more dangerous thing to do, you can introduce fluid and infection into the ear drum that way. And hypothetically, you could actually do damage to the ear drum, although it doesn't wear, it occurs pretty rarely in real practice. Now if all that popping isn't working, you may have a fluid collection in here. That maybe a result of a cold or or allergies or it maybe an actual ear infection, that needs the attention of a doctor. If you have a bacterial ear infection, you may benefit from antibiotics. If it seems to be a result of a cold or allergies, there maybe other medicines that help unclog this Eustachian tube. You may find that one or two doses of a nose spray like Afrin, helps clear up the tube as well. Or for children over age six or adults, a dose or two of an anti, of a decongestant such as Sudafedrin, Sudafed. For children under age six, we really don't recommend any of the over the counter cold medicines anymore. So talking about, how to unclog a stopped up ear, I'm Dr. David Hill.