How to Unpop Your Ears

Three Parts:Unpopping Your Ears QuicklyRelieving CongestionUsing Home Remedies

From time to time, especially when there is a sudden change in air pressure (such as when flying or diving), your ears can develop a popped or stuffed feeling when their Eustachian tubes are blocked. The Eustachian tubes link your middle ear to the back of your throat, and they are involved in draining fluid from as well as monitoring pressure levels in your ears.[1] If you feel an uncomfortable sensation in your ear, see Step 1 below to learn how to alleviate it.

Part 1
Unpopping Your Ears Quickly

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    Open your mouth slightly and yawn. Open it about as far as you would to say "ahhh," and attempt a yawn. Keep open your mouth slowly with your mouth in an "O" shape, until you break into a full yawn.
    • Stop when you have felt your ears un-pop. Repeat if the first yawn didn't work. You will know it when the pressure re balances. You'll not only hear and feel a pop, you'll suddenly hear much clearer than you had when your ears were popped.
    • Tilt your head back and thrust your jaw forward. Looking to the sky will put your Eustachian tubes into the proper position. Thrusting your jaw forward may help promote a yawn, and may open your Eustachian tubes and relieve the pressure.
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    Chew a piece of gum. If yawning doesn't work, chewing gum—or even mimicking the act of chewing gum—might. The movement helps equalize the pressure between the inside and outside of your ear. As can yawning, chewing gum can be done as a preventative measure, as well. Start chewing a stick of gum when you know you'll be dealing with altitude changes, and head the blockage off at the pass.
    • Chew a large piece of gum. We're talking Bubblicious, not Stride. The chewing motion needs to be large enough to open your throat and equalize the pressure in your ears. If you don't have anything to chew, make comically-large fake chewing motions, as if you'd bit off more than you could chew. Literally.
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    Suck on hard candies or lozenges. Similar to chewing a piece of gum, sucking for a while on a hard candy, mint, or some kind of lozenge can equalize the pressure. Don't chew it–you're not just eating candy!–but suck on it for a while to create the pressurizing effect.
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    Drink a large glass of water. The drinking motion combines many of the already-effective techniques all in one. Pour yourself a large glass of water, tilt your head back to position your Eustachian tubes, and take large gulps to help equalize the pressure in your ears. Done correctly, you should feel them unpop and any pain should be relieved.
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    If you've got water in your ears, very carefully use your finger to create some pressure. If you've just gotten out of the water and feel that irritating water-pressure-pain, you can use gravity by bending over at the waist, the popped ear parallel to the ground. Place the pad of one of your fingers across–not in–your ear, moving it on and off, like a toilet plunger. This can help to gently change the pressure in your ear and unpop them or change the pressure enough to expel any water that's gotten caught.
    • Never stick your finger into your ear. You're not trying to dig the water out, you're just trying to change the pressure. Sticking your finger too far into your ear can cause hearing damage.
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    Perform the Valsalva maneuver. Sounds complicated, but it's simple. The concept of the Valsalva maneuver to apply counter pressure to the Eustachian tubes by exhaling gently.
    • Pinch your nose, close your mouth, and gently attempt to exhale through your nose. This should open them up, allow the pressure to equalize, and return your ears to normal.
    • Be extremely gentle. The Valsalva maneuver does not need to be forced, and if done too hard and too frequently, can irritate and inflame the Eustachian tubes, which will make it that much harder to clear them.
    • For some people, it helps to bend over while doing this to get it to work. Bend down as if you were stretching by touching your toes. Alternately try the Valsalva maneuver, then release the pinch on your nose and suck in a big breath of air. Continue alternating these two things, while bent down, to help relieve pressure and pop your ears.

Part 2
Relieving Congestion

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    Don't be afraid to call the doctor. If your ears consistently remain popped, your condition could be from a more serious sinus problem which is causing persistent inflammation. See your doctor, who may suggest that you take an over-the-counter pain medication, a nasal spray, or an antibiotic.[2] In the meantime, take steps to reduce your ear pain or infection.
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    Get a prescription ear popper from a doctor. If you still can't un-pop your ears, talk to your doctor about an ear popper. The ear popper helps to equalize pressure on the inside and outside of your eardrum, thus un-popping it. While it's expensive, and may need to acquired by prescription, it may be just what the doctor ordered.
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    Flush your sinuses regularly. If you're experiencing congested sinuses as a result of cold or allergy, your ears can become plugged and throw your equilibrium off balance, making them feel as if they need to pop. To correct the issue, address your congestion by flushing your sinuses regularly and gently with warm salty water. Using sinus rinses as directed can be safe and effective, but keep in mind that they need to be cleaned and used properly to avoid infection or other complications.[3]
    • Neti-pots are widely available and can be used by filling with warm, distilled water mixed with a little salt. Tilt your head over the sink and pour water into one nostril, so it flows through your sinus cavity and out the other nostril. It feels kind of funky the first time, but offers serious relief to a clogged sinus.
    • If your sinuses are so plugged the water has trouble making it all the way through, the change in pressure might still be enough to relieve the congestion and relieve the clogged sensation in your ears. It's worth a shot.
    • Make sure you clean your neti-pot after each use and use only distilled or sterile water to avoid introducing any harmful bacteria into your system.
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    Take an antihistamine or decongestant before your symptoms worsen. Be proactive in protecting yourself against clogged sinuses and plugged-up ears. If you regularly struggle with your sinuses, don't wait until you've got a powerful pain and pressure in your ears to figure out how to unpop them. Head that pressure off at the pass by addressing your sinus issues with over-the-counter medication.
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    Take a warm bath and submerge your ears. If you're sick and want some relief for clogged ears, draw a warm bath and lay back with your ears under the surface of the water. Tilt your chin back and swallow hard a few times to see if your ears can unpop that way. The change in pressure can help to equalize your ears, and the steam from the hot water can also help to relieve your congestion issues. After you get out of the bath, if you're still feeling pressure, bend over so your ear is parallel to the ground and use your finger to create some pressure, as described above.
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    Blow your nose gently. Blowing your nose is essentially a version of the Valsalva maneuver, with the added benefit of relieving a stuffed-up nose. Use a tissue and plug one nostril at a time, blowing very gently out of the other. This should help to equalize the pressure in your ears.
    • It's important to be extremely gentle. Making a big nose trumpet into a tissue can make it worse, forcing blockage into your ear canal and making your ears feel as if they need to pop worse. Be very gentle.

Part 3
Using Home Remedies

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    Gargle hot, salted water. Try to get the water you gargle as warm as possible without burning the inside of your mouth.[4] Add about a teaspoon of salt to a coffee mug of water and dissolve. Gargle repeatedly, taking one minute breaks in between gargles. Finish the entire mug of warm water and then take at least a 30 minute break before trying again.
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    Try unplugging your ears with a combination of vinegar and rubbing alcohol. If you suspect that the pressure imbalance in your middle ear is due to a buildup of earwax, it could be helpful to unplug your ear first and then try some of the suggestions listed in the article. Here's how you do it:
    • Mix equal parts vinegar and 70% isopropyl alcohol. This solution will help loosen up the wax in your ear and unblock it.
    • Lean your head gently to the side and apply a few drops of the vinegar solution into the ear with a medicine dropper.
    • Keep your head tilted for a short while and then return it to its normal position. You may feel the vinegar solution run back down out of your ear. Repeat with the other ear.
    • Flush your ear out with a little bit of water. While the vinegar solution will evaporate because of the alcohol content, it's probably a good idea to flush the ears afterwards. Apply a few drops of water in a medicine dropper to the ears while your head is tilted sideways before tilting the head over to encourage discharge.
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    Eat something super spicy, like a jalapeno pepper. It's not the most pleasant taste or sensation, but it sure will get your mucus running. (Capsicum is reputed to help with mucus buildup.) Blow your nose and move your jaw around when the mucus really starts flowing. You may experience a popping in your ears.[5]
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    Try craniosacral therapy. Developed at the turn of the 20th century, craniosacral therapy seeks to re-balance the "natural rhythm of cerebrospinal flow." Although it's used for a wide range of disorders and therapies, it may be helpful in correcting the pressure imbalance in the Eustachian tubes that creates congestion in ears.
    • Many of craniosacral therapy's claims are unproven.[6] If you're desperate for alternatives though, it can't do any harm.
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    Try acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used to treat everything from ligament pain the foot to jaw discomfort and even ear inflammation. Visit an acupuncturist and talk to them about your problem if you've tried every trick in the book and still can't get your ears to pop.


  • Frozen foods can help. For example, try ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Yawn and even screaming helps.
  • Gently pull your ear tip and move it in circles.
  • Swallowing helps. Often chewing gum makes this much easier as it stimulates the release of saliva.
  • Yawning. And the valsalva manoeuvre ( hold your nose then gently try to blow air through your nose ) .
  • Gently blow through your nose while blocking it. Be very careful not to blow to hard or unwanted effects will occur.
  • If you are constantly getting popped ears or a muffled sounding voice (sounds muffled to yourself only) this could be a sign of sinusitis or a sinus infection.
  • Get a ton of saliva in your mouth, and, as disgusting as it sounds, swallow it. It may or may not help.

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Categories: Ear Care