Hearing Blog

Causes behind Popping Ears
Joshua Luekenga March 16, 2020

Causes behind Popping Ears

Of all the things to pop, the most annoying is the popping sensation within the ears! We all enjoy those long vacations but plane rides are a different issue altogether. They often involve uncomfortably stuffed up ears that tend to pop and cause pain and discomfort. You may have wondered why this uncomfortable sensation shows up; if so, here are some answers.

The familiar sensation of popping ears is a direct cause of changes in air pressure and high altitude. Your ears not only help with your hearing, they also help you maintain a balance between your body’s internal pressure and the pressure of your surroundings. The ears contain an air pocket which regulates the external pressure with your internal one.

If the air pressure outside you changes, this causes changes within your inner ear which expands the eardrum outwards. This expansion can block your Eustachian tube which can cause the stuffed up sensation within your ears. Once the tube equalizes the pressure within the ears to match that of the surroundings, you experience the popping sensation within the ears.

Changes in air pressure within an airplane usually happen during take off as well as landing, where the normally pressurized cabin has difficulty coping with the abrupt changes in altitude. Similar sensations of popping ears can also be experienced when you go through a tunnel while traveling inside a train. When a train travels within a tunnel, the air within these tunnels gets tightly squeezed and pushes towards the front of your train. This causes an abrupt increase in the pressure inside the train carriages, resulting in a stuffed up sensation within the ears.

There are some ways in which you can make yourself more comfortable during those times of abrupt air pressure changes. You can either yawn or make a swallowing movement with your jaw to open up the Eustachian tube. You can even suck on a piece of hard candy to help with the popping sensation. Alternatively, you can hold your fingers to pinch your nose shut while closing your mouth as you blow air through them, which can cause your ears to pop.

In some cases, a blocked Eustachian tube can result due to damage or inflammation within the middle or inner sections of your ear. Certain infections or allergies can cause this type of inflammation, which can be easily treated by a medical professional. At other times, you may have hearing damage as a result of this blockage.

If you feel like your ears are stuffed up or you experience pain in the ears despite not having been ill or having travelled in a plane or train, you may want to get your hearing tested. A hearing care professional will be able to guide you as to the actual reason behind your blocked ears by conducting a hearing exam so that you can address any hearing concerns that you may have. If you or a loved one is facing hearing problems due to stuffy ears, consult a hearing care professional today.

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