Ear Popping: 10 Home Remedies And Tips To Prevent It

Learn the causes behind that strange sound in your ears and the easiest ways to manage it.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Zeel Gandhi, BAMS Dr. Zeel Gandhi Dr. Zeel GandhiBAMS linkedin_icon
Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English) Dipti Sharma MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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The popping of ears is a blessing in disguise for people who have obstructed ears since it restores their hearing. However, for some people, repeated popping can occur due to a variety of reasons. To help those who are facing this frustrating issue, we have explained how to get rid of the crackling sound in the ear with home remedies, what causes it in the first place, and how to prevent it. Keep reading to know more!

Why Do Ears Pop?

Your ears feel like they are popping when there is a difference in the pressure inside and outside your eardrums. The pressure in the middle of your ear is equal to that outside your body. Any changes in the surrounding pressure cause your ears to pop. Flying in an airplane or scuba diving can cause this pressure difference and ear popping.

The eustachian tube connects your middle ear to the back of your nose and upper throat. This tube controls the air flow into and out of your middle ear and is responsible for equalizing pressure on the eardrum. It is the opening and closing of this tube through yawning or simply gulping that helps in relieving popping ears.

protip_icon Did You Know?
While Bartolomeo Eustachi, an Italian anatomist, discovered the eustachian tube, Antonio Valsalva, another anatomist, described the structure and function of the tube.

A number of reasons can cause the eustachian tube to dysfunction, and this may result in sensations of popping and crackling inside your ears.

A study estimated that eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) is more prevalent in children than in adults. It showed that 0.77 adult visits for every 1 pediatric clinic visit. About 90% of children experience otitis media with effusion, a consequence of ETD, before starting school. It affects around 1% of the adult population, with males being afflicted before the age of 20 and females later in life.

What Causes Ear Popping And Crackling?

Your ears could be popping and crackling due to:

  • The build-up of earwax in your ears can cause ear crackling with your jaw movement
  • A dysfunctional eustachian tube
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo
  • High doses of medications like ibuprofen and some diuretics
  • Presence of a foreign body in the ear – like a trapped insect
  • Microbial infection in the ear
  • Trauma caused by loud noise

Many factors can increase your risk of damaging the eustachian tube. They are:

  • A respiratory infection
  • Allergy
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Sudden changes in altitudes
protip_icon Did You Know?
The phrase describing the sudden painful feeling in the ears due to a change in air pressure is ear barotrauma or barotitis media.

Ear popping is common. But is it always benign? Ear popping can also occur due to an underlying infection. We shed more light on it below.

Is Ear Popping A Sign of Infection?

While ear popping is not typically a direct sign of infection, it can be related to one. Allergic rhinitis and viral infections can lead to dysfunction of the eustachian tube and cause a crackling sound (1). It is a common occurrence that usually happens due to changes in altitude, allergies, or congestion.

Ear popping can manifest in various ways. Learn more about them below.

Symptoms Of Ear Popping

  • Congestion or a sudden change in pressure in your ears
  • A crackling sound in your ears
  • Mild, temporary hearing loss

While these symptoms could usually be mild, it is important to treat them at the earliest. This is where certain home remedies could help.

How To Treat Popping Ears Naturally

  1. Yawning
  2. Swallowing
  3. Valsalva Maneuver
  4. Toynbee Maneuver
  5. Apply A Warm Washcloth
  6. Chew Gum
  7. Suck On Hard Candies
  8. Nasal spray
  9. Hot Water Bath
  10. Hydrogen Peroxide

10 Home Remedies To Treat Popping Ears

1. Yawning

Yawn to get rid of popping ears
Image: Shutterstock

Yawning can relieve popping ears almost instantly. This is because yawning causes your eustachian tube to open and restores the pressure balance in your middle ear (2). This alleviates symptoms of popping ears.

2. Swallowing

Just like yawning, swallowing causes your eustachian tube to open and balances the pressure inside your ears with the pressure around you.

3. Valsalva Maneuver

What You Have To Do
  1. Inhale deeply and hold your breath tight.
  2. Imagine that your chest and stomach are extremely tight and bear down as if you wish to initiate a bowel movement.
  3. Hold this position for about 10 seconds.
  4. Breathe out forcibly and resume normal breathing.
How This Works

The Valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique known to increase the pressure in your chest. It is used for a variety of ailments, including relieving popping ears caused by high altitudes or infections (3).

4. Toynbee Maneuver

What You Have To Do
  1. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  2. Pinch your nose and try to swallow.
How This Works

The Toynbee maneuver is a technique used to decrease the nasopharyngeal pressure on the middle ear and eustachian tube. It results in the opening of the eustachian tube and relieves popping sensations in the ear by restoring its pressure (4).

5. Apply A Warm Washcloth

Warm washcloth to get rid of popping ears
Image: Shutterstock
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a bowl of hot water.
  2. Soak a clean washcloth in it and wring out the excess water.
  3. Apply the warm washcloth to your ears and leave it on for a minute.
  4. Repeat the procedure 2 to 3 times.
Why This Works

Any source of warmth helps relieve a congested or blocked ear that could be causing it to pop. A warm compress thins the mucus and decongests your ears, especially if they are blocked due to a cold or flu.

6. Chewing Gum

Woman chewing gum to get rid of popping ears
Image: Shutterstock

Chewing on a piece of gum can also alleviate symptoms of popping ears. This is because chewing gum increases the production of saliva in your mouth, which, in turn, increases your swallowing rate. This helps in opening the eustachian tube and getting rid of popping ears.

7. Suck On Hard Candies

Just like chewing on gum, sucking on a candy increases the number of times you swallow the produced saliva. This, in turn, treats and even prevents popping ears.

8. Nasal Spray

Nasal spray to get rid of popping ears
Image: Shutterstock
What You Have To Do
  1. Prepare saline water using distilled water.
  2. Use the saline solution to irrigate your nostrils, one nostril at a time.
  3. Take the saline solution in from one nostril and allow it to flush out through the other.
  4. Repeat as required after intervals.
How This Works

Nasal sprays clear congestion in the nose by reducing the inflammation and swelling in the nasal passage (5). This helps in thinning and getting rid of the excess mucus in your nose and ears. Removal of the excess mucus helps get rid of ear popping caused by congestion due to a cold or flu.

9. Hot Water Bath

Taking a hot bath has almost the same effect as that of a warm compress. It helps in opening up your arteries and liquefying the mucus that could be causing congestion in your ears, helping in getting rid of the constant popping in your ears caused by respiratory infections.

10. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide to treat ear popping
Image: Shutterstock
What You Have To Do
  1. Take 1 to 3 mL of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a medicine dropper.
  2. Lie on your side and pour it in the ear facing the ceiling.
  3. For safety, ask someone to assist you in this procedure.
  4. Leave the hydrogen peroxide mixture in your ear for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Blot the excess hydrogen peroxide that must have leaked out of your ear.
  6. Repeat the procedure for the other ear as well.
How This Works

Too much wax in the ears is one of the main culprits for causing popping sounds in the ear. Hydrogen peroxide softens earwax and makes its removal easier (6).

You can also follow a few tips to avoid this problem.

Tips To Prevent Popping Ears

  • Yawn or swallow right before take-off and landing.
  • Maintain food hygiene to prevent catching a cold or flu.
  • Exert counter pressure on your eustachian tube by closing your mouth, pinching your nose, and blowing hard.
  • Use filtered earplugs to relieve pressure when you take off or land during a flight.

A combination of these tips and remedies should relieve popping almost immediately. If you notice no improvement, visit your doctor immediately. You must also seek medical attention if you notice any of the following.

When To See A Doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You can’t unclog your ears for more than two weeks.
  • You have developed sinusitis or an ear infection.
  • You have an allergy.
  • There is a build-up of wax in your ears.

Infographic: 5 Easy Home Remedies For Ear Popping

Every now and then, we’ve all felt or heard strange sounds in our ears, as if something were crackling or popping around in the ear. Taking antibiotics or going to the doctor might not always be the best, most accessible option. Scroll down to this infographic and try these home remedies to feel better.

ear popping 5 easy home remedies (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

While ear popping can facilitate better hearing for some, having it too often can be bothersome. You can try the above mentioned home remedies, tips, and tricks to help get rid of popping ears. Yawning, swallowing, chewing gum, and sucking onhard candies are a few common ways to get relief from ear popping naturally. Try any of these next time you feel pestered with this harmless phenomenon.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to avoid ear popping on a plane?

You can prevent your ears from popping on a plane by swallowing and yawning back to back before take-off and landing. You can also make use of filtered earplugs for relieving pressure in your ears.

Is it bad for your ears to pop?

The popping of ears is not a major problem and will not have any long-term effects. But if your symptoms get worse and don’t improve for over two weeks or you develop sinus congestion, consult a doctor.

How long does a blocked eustachian tube last?

A blocked eustachian tube usually doesn’t last for more than two weeks. If it lasts longer, consult a doctor immediately.

How do you know if you have a ruptured eardrum?

Your ears may pain severely, there could be drainage from your ears, you might feel a ringing sensation in your ears, or you may even experience complete hearing loss if you have a ruptured eardrum.

Can I damage my ears by popping them?

No, not unless you apply too much pressure or sneeze harshly. Be gentle and try to release the pressure slowly.

What happens if you don’t let your ears pop?

You may experience discomfort in your ears and have muffled hearing if you don’t let your ears pop.

Key Takeaways

  • The ears pop when there is a difference in the pressure inside and outside your eardrums.
  • Your ears could pop due to microbial infection in the ear, allergy, build-up of earwax, trauma from loud noise, and more.
  • Simply yawn, swallow, apply a warm compress to your ears, chew gum or take a hot bath to treat popping ears naturally.
  • Consult a doctor if you can’t unclog your ears for more than 2 weeks or have an infection.
ear popping

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Ever wondered why your ears pop? Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of ear physiology in this video. It uncovers the surprising reasons behind that familiar popping sensation. Check it out!

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Improvement Secondary to Moderate Weight Loss: Case Report” King Abdullah Medical City, Makkah, SAU
  2. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction” Baylor College of Medicine
  3. Airman Education Programs” Federal Aviation Administration
  4. Toynbee phenomenon and middle ear disease” American Journal Of Otolaryngology, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions” American Family Physician, US National Library of Medicine
  6. “Management Of Earwax”, US National Library of Medicine.
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Dr. Zeel Gandhi is an Ayurvedic doctor with 7 years of experience and an expert at providing holistic solutions for health problems encompassing Internal medicine, Panchakarma, Yoga, Ayurvedic Nutrition, and formulations.

Read full bio of Dr. Zeel Gandhi
Shaheen Naser
Shaheen NaserHealth & Wellness Writer
Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from Bharathiar University. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling.

Read full bio of Shaheen Naser
Arshiya Syeda
Arshiya SyedaSenior Editor
Arshiya Syeda is a senior editor at StyleCraze with 7 years of experience. Prior to that, she was a content writer and combined her writing and research skills to write over 200 high-performing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and skin care.

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Dipti Sharma
Dipti SharmaBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Dipti is a health and wellness writer specializing in holistic health practices. She graduated from Maharishi Dayanand University, Haryana, and has worked closely with Ayurvedic doctors, which has given her a deep understanding of traditional remedies and their applications.

Read full bio of Dipti Sharma
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