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How do I Make my Ears Pop?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Hearing only muffled sounds due to clogged ears can be bothersome, whether the issue is due to the common cold, allergies, an airplane ride, or some unknown reason. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make the ears pop without having to see a specialist or spend extra money. In fact, you can usually make your ears pop for free by swallowing hard, yawning, or closing your nostrils and attempting to blow out air through the nose. If these tips do not work, you may need the help of some inexpensive tools, including chewing gum, hard candy, or a nasal decongestant.

Swallowing hard might sound like too simple a way to make the ears pop, but it often works. This is because this motion can stimulate the muscle responsible for making the auditory tubes work, stabilizing pressure. You can take several hard swallows of a drink, or just swallow your saliva if a beverage is not available. Yawning can have the same effect, but you may have to yawn wider than usual a few times to see any results.

The Valsalva maneuver is another way to make the ears pop without using any specific tools. While most people may not have heard of this move, they have likely performed it before, as it involves squeezing the nostrils shut with the thumb and forefinger and then trying to blow air out the nose. If you do not hear a popping noise, repeat the motion a few times, but be careful not to blow the air out too hard since you may damage the auditory tubes or the eardrums. In fact, this exercise is usually considered less safe than yawning or swallowing in order to eliminate ear congestion, so only perform it when necessary.

Some of the most popular ways to relieve ear congestion require a few inexpensive items. For example, you can chew gum before taking an airplane flight, as this can decrease the pressure by opening the auditory tubes, much like the other popular solutions can. You can also use hard candy or mints in place of gum, as the fact that you will probably have to swallow often make it likely that your ears will pop. Finally, you can take a decongestant before your ears are likely to become clogged, such as during the descent of a flight. Though this solution often takes a while to work, it usually does the job of relieving pressure well so that the ears pop.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

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Discussion Comments
By anon989954 — On Mar 29, 2015

I went on this because I'm going scuba diving later but had a sudden ear clog since last night. The default scuba technique for clearing your ears is to pinch your nose and forcefully exhale, because if you don't clear your ears, your eardrums may explode. Looks like I may have to cancel.

By anon970509 — On Sep 18, 2014

I think I have a cold, and my ear has a "bubble" and I tried coughing, yawning, opening my jaw and closing it, but nothing works. What should I do?

By anon927344 — On Jan 23, 2014

I have tried everything and it hasn't worked. But I can't chew gum because I have braces so that stinks.

I think it is time to call a doctor if you can't get your ears unpopped. I think I am going to wait a little longer for my ear to unpop. It's my left one. It has been clogged/popped and won't unpop three days. But if I can't get my ear unpopped in another day or so, I am going to ask my mom to take me to the doctor. I can't hear anything out of my left ear. Jeez, now I know what it feels like to be deaf. (No offense to deaf people, didn't mean it like that. I'm just saying that I feel for you!)

By anon342352 — On Jul 19, 2013

I don't chew gum or eat hard candy. And when I yawn, it sounds like an animal dying and it doesn't sound like a real yawn be cause it's not, so it doesn't work. I haven't heard a single thing for six hours.

By seag47 — On Jan 06, 2012

To me, yawning is the best way to make my ears pop. I open my mouth as wide as it will go.

The trick is to hold your mouth open for several seconds. If you don't feel any change in ear pressure, this probably means it isn't going to work.

Though it usually works for me under normal circumstances, there have been times when I've had a cold or sinus infection and nothing seemed to work. When I'm sick, I just have to wait for the illness to pass, or if it is bacterial in nature, I can get my doctor to give me some antibiotics to speed the healing process.

By Perdido — On Jan 05, 2012

@Oceana – I use those chewy granola bars. The kind that are glued together with honey or molasses can take seemingly forever to fully chew, and my ears always pop by the time I'm done with a bar.

This may sound strange, but my cousin who suffers from clogged ears often purposely overcooks his steak so that he can use it to pop his ears. The longer you cook it, the tougher it is to chew, so he gets his well done.

I tried it once, and it worked. My jaw was exhausted by the time I was halfway done with my steak, though, so I wouldn't use this method often.

By Oceana — On Jan 05, 2012

I have found that snacking on baby carrots makes my ears pop when they are clogged with mucus. Carrots take a long time to chew, and this produces a lot of saliva, so I swallow a lot before I am finished with even one carrot.

They are full of vitamin A, so I get health benefits while working on the ear popping. Sometimes I throw some raisins into the mix, since they are kind of chewy, too, and they go well with carrots.

Does anyone else have something that you chew on to pop your ears besides gum or candy? I have allergies, so my ears get clogged a lot, and I would appreciate any new ideas.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 04, 2012

I used to be able to take a combination antihistamine/decongestant to ease my ear pressure, but since people started using this medicine to make crystal meth, it is no longer manufactured. It is a shame, too, because that was the only one that worked for me.

So now, I blow air through my plugged nose instead. I have to be careful when doing this, though, because if my eustachian tube is blocked because of a cold, sometimes it hurts a lot. The air won't go through, and I feel a sharp, stabbing pain.

I don't care for gum or candy, so I just do the nose-blowing technique. If this doesn't work or causes pain, I either have to deal with it or get some antibiotics from a doctor to make the swelling go down.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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