How to unpop your ears

How to unpop your ears

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During air travel or when driving in the mountains, you should experience a popping in your ears. Your ear naturally regulates internal air pressure to protect itself from damage. If your ear isn’t popping on its own you’ll feel intense pressure and pain in your ear. Regularly popping your ears isn’t safe, but at times, manual pressure release is necessary.

Function

In your middle ear a tube called the Eustachian tube connects to the back of your sinus. Air and fluid can pass through this tube to regulate pressure behind your eardrum. If your Eustachian tube becomes blocked or if external air pressure changes rapidly, pressure builds up behind your eardrum. Built up pressure in your middle ear causes your eardrum to expand. If the pressure is not released, it will rupture your eardrum.

Effects

Your middle ear also contains three small bones needed for hearing. Blowing your nose forcefully in an attempt to pop your ears could cause one of those tiny bones to break. Your bones become brittle as you age, making forceful ear popping even more risky if you are older.

Prevention/Solution

The safest way to pop your ears is by yawning, swallowing or chewing. If pressure needs to be released in your middle ear you’ll hear a pop when you yawn or swallow.

Warning

If you plug your nose and blow you’ll feel the pressure change in your ears. Although you can pop your ears this way, you can also rupture your eardrum using this method. You may temporarily feel as if you can hear better after plugging your nose and blowing, but doing so on a regular basis isn’t safe.Only as a last resort should you plug your nose and gently blow to pop your ears.

Considerations

If you’re not traveling to or from higher elevation but still feel like you need to pop your ears, you could be suffering from Eustachian tube dysfuntion. Chronic allergies can also cause ear pressure and Eustachian tube blockage. If your ears continually plug up, there‘s probably a medical explanation. Consult your physician.

In the hot desert of Arizona, Nadia Benavidez has been studying hearing instrument science since 2002. After leaving a clinical practice, Benavidez has put her talent to work writing informative articles related to health and wellness. Currently Benavidez is working on her first book.

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John Carew, MD, is board-certified in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. He is an adjunct assistant professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center and NYU Medical Center.

Your body naturally maintains a normal balance of air pressure on both sides of your eardrum. When the pressure changes between the middle ear and the outside, you will feel like your ears are plugged. Depending on the amount of pressure change, you may even experience pain associated with the changes.

How to unpop your ears

Typically, as pressure starts to build up, you can equalize the pressure in your ears by swallowing. However, as you ascend or descend rapidly by flying, diving, or driving up and down a steep mountain, the air in your middle ear space can sometimes have trouble adjusting to the pressure.

Under normal circumstances, as your middle ear adjusts to the ambient pressure (pressure of where you are), you should have the sensation of your ears popping. This popping or clicking sensation occurs as air moves from the upper part of your throat and nose through your eustachian tube into your middle ear.

Effective Ways to Pop Your Ears

Any medical condition that affects your eustachian tube can change your natural ability to equalize the pressure in your ears. Try these tricks to help to equalize the pressure in your ears:

  • Swallowing
  • Yawning
  • Chew gum
  • Suck on hard candy
  • Use over-the-counter decongestants, like Afrin or Sudafed, before traveling

If you are traveling with an infant or toddler you may not be able to get them to do any of the above. You can simulate the same actions by getting them to use a bottle, suck on a pacifier, or give them a drink.

If the pressure difference continues to and you’re unable to get your ears to equalize, or pop, you can experience ear pain and even get a ruptured eardrum (also called barotrauma).

Why Your Ears Won’t Pop

If you feel pressure, pain, or the sensation of your ears being plugged and they won’t pop, you may have an underlying ear disorder that is affecting the function of your auditory (eustachian) tube. The following problems can affect the ability of your ears to pop.

Fluid in the Ear

Fluid in the ear may prevent ears from popping as the thickened fluid blocks the auditory tube, which prevents fluid from draining into the back of the throat. Sometimes this is caused by infection.

Another reason for retaining fluid in the ear is due to the enlargement of surrounding structures, such as the adenoids or sinus tissue. If the auditory tube is being blocked by surrounding tissue, the removal of this tissue may also be necessary.

Fluid in the ear is usually treated by the surgical insertion of synthetic ear tubes, which allows the ear to drain and equalize pressure. You should know that if you have ear tubes, you will not be able to have your ears pop. This is because the tube through your eardrum will automatically equalize pressure. Other names for fluid in the ear include serous otitis media, glue ear, and otitis media with effusion.  

Excessive Ear Wax

Too much ear wax (cerumen) can also impair the function of your auditory tube.   There are a few ways that your doctor can remove the wax, and it can be done in their office. Wax can be removed with special ear drops that dissolve the wax, by irrigation, or with a special instrument called a cerumen spoon, which the doctor uses to “dig” the wax out.

This doesn’t mean you should run out and buy some ear candles or stick a cotton swab down your ear, as this will likely just push the wax down further. This type of ear wax blockage needs to be removed by a professional, preferably an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT).

Congestion

Too much mucus can gum up your auditory tube and make it difficult to maintain the pressure in the middle ear space. Congestion-related to allergies can be helped by taking a decongestant medication before getting on an airplane or going on a road trip with elevation gain.

A cold virus is also a common cause of congestion, but if it lasts longer than about three weeks, you may be dealing with allergies or another condition that should be evaluated by a physician.

Patulous Eustachian Tube

Patulous eustachian tube is a very rare disorder in which the auditory tube fails to close and remains open all of the time. Besides feeling as though your ears are plugged, symptoms of patulous eustachian tube include:  

  • Tinnitus
  • Autophony (when your voice seems abnormally loud to you)
  • Hearing your own breathing.

Other Causes

Some of the other reasons you may experience eustachian tube dysfunction include:  

  • Sinusitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • Enlarged turbinates
  • Tonsillitis

Usually, an ENT will be able to help control symptoms from any of the above problems with either medications or surgery. However, you have to plan ahead and have these issues resolved before traveling if you want to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing any pain associated pressure changes.

A Word From Verywell

Ear problems that affect your ability to equalize pressure can be quite bothersome and impact your ability to enjoy activities, such as traveling by plane and scuba diving. Sometimes you won’t know you have a problem until you are already participating in the activity.

If your ears do not pop and you feel as though they are clogged or you are experiencing significant ear pain, you should make an appointment with a doctor. If you have symptoms of a ruptured eardrum, such as fluid or blood draining from the ear, an intense earache followed by a pop and sudden relief of pain, or difficulty hearing, you should see a doctor immediately.

Last Updated: June 3, 2021 References Approved

This article was medically reviewed by Sarah Gehrke, RN, MS. Sarah Gehrke is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas. Sarah has over 10 years of experience teaching and practicing phlebotomy and intravenous (IV) therapy using physical, psychological, and emotional support. She received her Massage Therapist License from the Amarillo Massage Therapy Institute in 2008 and a M.S. in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2013.

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From time to time, especially when there is a sudden change in air pressure (such as when flying or diving), your ears may develop a feeling of being stuffed up or needing to “pop.” This uncomfortable condition is called ear barotrauma. Barotrauma happens when the air pressure on either side of your eardrum becomes imbalanced. In order to regain this balance, the Eustachian tubes, which link your middle ear to the back of your throat, need to be opened up. [1] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the Public Go to source If you experience barotrauma, relieve the pressure by doing simple facial exercises for immediate relief. If your ears are frequently stuffed up, try treating the underlying cause of the condition, or using home remedies or alternative treatments.

The Eustachian tube extends from the inner ear to the back of the nose and throat. One of the functions of the tube is draining mucus. The swallowing reflex causes the Eustachian tube to open and close irregularly, which in turn normalizes the pressure on both sides of the eardrum. Sometimes the tube does not open as it should and one feels the imbalance of pressure on the eardrum. The pressure difference causes an uncomfortable and sometimes painful feeling, which may be triggered by changes in altitude and the effects of a cold on the ears, nose and throat. There are many ways of how to unpop your ears to relieve the abnormal pressure and eliminate the painful feeling.

How to Unpop Your Ears

The feeling caused by unbalanced pressure on the eardrum is often unbearable and painful. Here are some useful tips on solving this problem fast.

1. Try Chewing Motion

Chewing and sucking hard candy trigger a swallowing reflex in the throat, which causes the tube to open. This normalizes pressure on the eardrum. If you have a cold, you can combine the exercises with lozenges to relieve soreness in the throat. The chewing motion also stretches the inner ear, nose and the tube that connects the two parts.

How to unpop your ears

2. Apply Heat on Your Ears and Neck

If you place a microwaveable wheat bag on your neck or ear, the cold symptoms reduce and the Eustachian tube opens normally to relieve any pressure. Another tip on how to unpop your ears is submerging both ears in water when taking a hot bath. Combine this tip with other methods such as lozenges or chewing gum for better results.

3. Try to Yawn as You Open Your Mouth Slightly

Open your mouth slowly until you achieve a full yawn. You may need to repeat the process several times. Stop the process when your ears unpop. You will feel the pressure on your eardrums normalizes and hear clearer when your ears unpop. You can put your Eustachian tube in the right position by tilting your head back as if you are looking into the sky and then thrust your jaw forward. You are likely to achieve a full yawn as you thrust your jaw forward.

4. Use Your Finger to Create Pressure and Remove Water from Your Ears

You will feel the discomfort and pain of popped ears when you have water in your ears. To relieve this discomfort, bend over at the waist until the popped ear is parallel to the ground. Use the pad of one of your fingers to make on and off motions as you would use a toilet plunger. These movements change the pressure in your ear and will either unpop your ear or remove the water. Avoid sticking your finger into your ear. This could cause a hearing damage.

5. Try Valsalva Maneuver

This concept involves applying a counter pressure on the tube by exhaling or blowing gently. Exhale gently as you pinch your nose and close mouth. This exercise opens up your Eustachian tubes and normalizes the pressure. You must be very gentle when trying this method. You could irritate and inflame your tubes and block your ear canal if you use too much force in the process or repeat the process frequently. When doing this maneuver, you can try bending as if you are touching your toes or release your nose and suck in large amount of air for better results.

6. Flush Congested Sinuses with Warm Water

Congested sinuses could result from an allergy or cold. Sinuses plug your ears and destabilize the pressure in your ears until they feel like they need to pop. You can relieve the feeling by flushing the sinuses with warm salty water. Flush them gently and regularly. Fill a neti-pot with warm salty water. Tilt your head and pour the salty water through one nostril over a sink. The water will flow through the sinus cavity to the other nostril. Increase the pressure if your sinuses are very congested.

Be proactive and get medication for the sinuses. Do not wait until your sinuses are too clogged or congested. Protect your ears by purchasing an OTC decongestant, such as decongestants or antihistamines. You are likely to feel a lot of pain and pressure as you try to unpop your ears if you have regular sinuses.

7. Use a Doctor’s Prescription

If you try all the concepts outlined above and still don’t know how to unpop your ears, seek medical attention from a doctor. Your doctor is likely to prescribe an ear popper. The ear popper helps normalize the pressure and unpop your ears. An ear popper may be expensive but is effective in relieving the discomfort and pain. Ensure that you follow the doctor’s instructions on how to use it to avoid further complications.

8. Drink Enough Water

Drinking water exaggerates the swallowing reflex and changes air pressure as the throat fills with water. Both effects help to open the Eustachian tube and normalize the pressure in your ears. It is advisable to take water in large gulps and in different temperatures. Start with cold water then take lukewarm water to increase the chances of opening the tube.

How to unpop your ears

The Eustachian tube extends from the inner ear to the back of the nose and throat. Among the functions of tube is draining pipes mucus. The swallowing reflex causes the Eustachian tube to open and close irregularly, which in turn stabilizes the pressure on both sides of the eardrum. In some cases tube does closed as it should and one feels the imbalance of pressure on the eardrum. The pressure distinction causes an uneasy and sometimes painful sensation, which might be set off by modifications in elevation and the results of a cold on the ears, nose and throat. There are numerous ways of how to unpop your ears to alleviate the irregular pressure and eliminate the painful feeling.

  1. How to Unpop Your Ears
  2. 1. Attempt Chewing Motion
  3. 2. Apply Heat on Your Ears and Neck
  4. 3. Aim to Yawn as You Open Your Mouth Slightly
  5. 4. Use Your Finger to Create Pressure and Remove Water from Your Ears
  6. 5. Attempt Valsalva Maneuver
  7. 6. Flush Congested Sinuses with Warm Water
  8. 7. Use a Doctor’s Prescription
  9. 8. Drink Enough Water

How to Unpop Your Ears

The feeling brought on by out of balance pressure on the eardrum is often unbearable and painful. Here are some helpful tips on resolving this problem fast.

1. Attempt Chewing Motion

Chewing and drawing difficult sweet set off a swallowing reflex in the throat, which causes tube to open. This stabilizes pressure on the eardrum. If you have a cold, you can combine the exercises with lozenges to eliminate soreness in the throat. The chewing motion also extends the inner ear, nose and tube that connects the two parts.

2. Apply Heat on Your Ears and Neck

If you place a microwaveable wheat bag on your neck or ear, the cold symptoms minimize and the Eustachian tube opens usually to relieve any pressure. Another idea on how to unpop your ears is immersing both ears in water when taking a hot bath. Integrate this idea with other techniques such as lozenges or chewing gum for much better outcomes.

3. Aim to Yawn as You Open Your Mouth Slightly

Open your mouth slowly till you achieve a full yawn. You might have to duplicate the procedure a number of times. Stop the process when your ears unpop. You will feel the pressure on your eardrums normalizes and hear clearer when your ears unpop. You can put your Eustachian tube in the right position by tilting your head back as if you are checking out the sky and then thrust your jaw forward. You are likely to attain a complete yawn as you thrust your jaw forward.

4. Use Your Finger to Create Pressure and Remove Water from Your Ears

You will feel the discomfort and pain of popped ears when you have water in your ears. To alleviate this pain, bend over at the waist up until the popped ear is parallel to the ground. Use the pad of one of your fingers to make on and off motions as you would use a toilet plunger. These movements alter the pressure in your ear and will either unpop your ear or remove the water. Avoid sticking your finger into your ear. This could cause a hearing damage.

5. Attempt Valsalva Maneuver

This principle includes applying a counter pressure on the tube by breathing out or blowing gently. Exhale carefully as you pinch your nose and close mouth. This exercise opens your Eustachian tubes and normalizes the pressure. You need to be extremely gentle when attempting this approach. You might irritate and inflame your tubes and obstruct your ear canal if you use excessive force in the process or repeat the process regularly. When doing this maneuver, you can try bending as if you are touching your toes or launch your nose and absorb big amount of air for better results.

6. Flush Congested Sinuses with Warm Water

Congested sinuses might result from an allergic reaction or cold. Sinuses plug your ears and destabilize the pressure in your ears until they seem like they need to pop. You can ease the sensation by flushing the sinuses with warm salted water. Flush them gently and frequently. Fill a neti-pot with warm salted water. Tilt your head and put the salted water through one nostril over a sink. The water will stream through the sinus cavity to the other nostril. Increase the pressure if your sinuses are extremely busy.

Be proactive and get medication for the sinuses. Do not wait until your sinuses are too clogged or congested. Protect your ears by purchasing an OTC decongestant, such as decongestants or antihistamines. You are likely to feel a great deal of pain and pressure as you aim to unpop your ears if you have regular sinuses.

7. Use a Doctor’s Prescription

If you attempt all the concepts described above and still don’t know how to unpop your ears, look for medical attention from a doctor. Your doctor is most likely to prescribe an ear popper. The ear popper helps normalize the pressure and unpop your ears. An ear popper may be costly however works in relieving the discomfort and pain. Guarantee that you follow the doctor’s instructions on how to use it to prevent additional complications.

8. Drink Enough Water

Drinking water overemphasizes the swallowing reflex and changes atmospheric pressure as the throat fills with water. Both effects help to open the Eustachian tube and stabilize the pressure in your ears. It is recommended to take water in large gulps and in different temperature levels. Start with cold water then take lukewarm water to increase the opportunities of opening tube.

Watch a video below for more information how to unpop your ear safely:

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How to unpop your earsWhen you experience a buildup of pressure in your ears, usually caused by things such as sickness, congestion and even flying, it feels like they need to ‘pop’ – as though whatever is in there needs to break free. It’s a familiar sensation and we’ve all experienced it at least once in our life. It’s a normal body reaction but annoying nevertheless.

Let’s first take a look at why your ears pop or buildup with pressure in the first place…

The Eustachian tube runs right from the centre channel of your ear down along the side of your throat. This channel is designed to manipulate the air to allow for an equalization of pressure and when the ear ‘pops’, that’s the pressure being released or equalized. You can normally hear it when you eat, fly or occasionally, yawn.

The need to pop changes when the pressure changes, either inside the eardrum or outside. When you are flying for example, the cabin pressure drops as you climb up meaning there is more pressure on the inside than the outside, the eardrum bulges and eventually, it will pop.

Looking at things from a different perspective, if you were to go down under water, the pressure would increase and as a result, the ear drum would bulge but this time inwardly.

The Eustachian tube is designed to open on its own when there is a need for it – when the pressure changes inside or outside the inner ear.

When the Eustachian tube doesn’t work…

When you are congested, there is already too much pressure on the ear, nose and throat, and this is definitely the case when you have something like an upper respiratory infection. Your swollen throat stops the tube from closing and opening as it normally would and that’s when you need to know how to unpop your ears.

How to Unpop Your Ears

If your Eustachian tube isn’t doing its job and releasing the pressure on your behalf, there are ways you can manipulate it to pop your ears yourself. Try some of these:

1 – Repeat a yawning motion.

By opening your mouth slowly and deliberately, as if you are mimicking a yawn, you can sometimes encourage an actual yawn to come and that can often help with un-popping the ears. Even opening the mouth wide can encourage the Eustachian tube to do the jobs its meant to do.

2 – Repeat a chewing motion.

Chewing gum can actually help you to pop your ears and again, it’s that jaw-moving motion that does the trick. When you move your jaw and mouth in a chewing action, the tube is released allowing the pressure to be re-stabilized.

Here’s a handy little tip – use eucalyptus or menthol gum and lozenges to help ease the decongestion and you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

3 – Use heat.

Changing the temperature of something can often alter the state of it. Heat and make things expand and cool temperatures can make things contract. You could try first using a heat pad, or a microwaveable heat pad, on the ear or neck, along the side you are experiencing problems.

You could also try running yourself a bath and completely submerging yourself up to the ears in the water. The pressure of the water can help to equalize the pressure inside your ear.

Some people have suggested that using an ice pack on the ear can have a similar effect but this can make other symptoms worsen such as a headache.

4 – Drink more water.

When you drink more water, you are not only strengthening the swallowing reflex, making it easier for you to pop your ears as and when you need to, but you’re also helping to stabilize the pressure by keeping fluids levels right and balanced within the body.

The best way to use this method when learning how to unpop your ears is to start with ice cold temperature and take large gulps. If that doesn’t work, increase the temperature of the water slowly, still taking large gulps.

5 – Unclog your sinuses.

This is often the easiest approach to take especially if you have other cold and flu symptoms. Over-the-counter remedies work pretty quickly to help relieve sinus congestion, and you could also consider doing an at-home sinus flush. Warm salty water, when flushed through one nostril, will flow through the other one and will help to wash away and clean up any mucus, congestion and even bacteria.

6 – Forced pop.

Although it can be painful in some cases, there is a way you can force the pressure of your popped ears back to normal. Holding your nose and keeping your mouth closed, you should try to breathe out air with a high force. Like you’re blowing your nose but without anything coming out. Blowing your nose could also help though – have you tried that yet?

7 – Ear plunging.

You can use your finger to push the outer part of your ear into your inner part of the ear to form a plunger-effect. If there’s anything there to stop the pressure being equalized, you may find that this does the trick quite nicely.

You can help things along even further by bending at the waist so that your ear is parallel to the floor.

Having clogged ears is one of the most annoying feelings. We have all experienced that painful and troublesome sensation when our ears feel full or clogged and they need immediate relief. When the pressure changes between the inside of the ear and the outside, it causes the ears to feel clogged. Depending on the amount of change, it may even be painful. In this post you will find 11 tips on how to unpop your ears.

1. Yawn

Yawning helps to open the auditory tubes. Try yawning several times until the ears pop open.

2. Swallow

When you swallow, your muscles automatically work to open the auditory tubes. Try swallowing or sip water to help increase the need to swallow.

3. Pinch Your Nose and Swallow (Toynbee maneuver)

Pinching the nose and swallowing pulls open the auditory tubes while the movement of the tongue, with the nose closed, compresses air which passes through the tubes to the middle ear. This results in a decreased pressure against the middle ear which will open in response.

4. Pinch Your Nostrils and Blow (Valsalva maneuver)

Take a deep breath and pinch the nose. Keeping the mouth closed, softly and gently try to blow air through the nose. Transmitting air into the auditory tube and middle ear to relieve pressure. Be careful when performing this because there is a small risk of rupturing the eardrum.

5. Pinch Your Nose and Click Your Tongue (Frenzel maneuver)

Pinch your nose and use your tongue to make a clicking sound or a “k” sound. This is a much gentler non forced way to equalize pressure where only the tongue and throat muscles flex and contract with no forceful air.

6. Chewing gum

Chewing gum helps increase swallowing by stimulating saliva production. Also, the chewing motion can also help to open the auditory tubes.

7. Hard Candy

Similar to chewing gum the hard candy helps increase swallowing by stimulating saliva production.

8. Warm Compress

Take a wash cloth, run it under warm water, and wring it out . Apply the cloth to your ear for five or ten minutes, and the fluids in your ear will begin to drain.

9. Olive Oil or Hydrogen Peroxide

This helps to open up your Eustachian tubes by softening and removing your wax. Add lukewarm olive oil or hydrogen peroxide to an ear dropper and lie down with the clogged ear facing up. Place three to five drops of liquid in your blocked ear and stay in that position for five to ten minutes. Then, switch sides with the affected ear facing down and wait for your ear to drain earwax and the oil or hydrogen peroxide (make sure to use a towel).

10. Steaming

Put hot water into a large bowl. Create a tent with a towel by covering both yourself and the bowl with it. Inhale the steam to help thin the mucus and earwax in your ear.

11. Nasal Decongestants

Unclogging your nasal passageways can help with clogged ears. If you use an OTC nasal decongestant, make sure to follow the directions carefully.

Popping your ears is usually safe and effective, as long as you’re gentle. Ear popping usually works within a few tries. If this problems occurs often you may want to look into taking care of your ears regularly or try some natural ear remedies.

By: Brenna Swanston

Making Your Flight Easy on the Ears: How to Unpop Them

The bags are packed, the tickets are booked, and your family’s all ready for the big trip ahead. But there’s one last thing you might have forgotten to prepare for: ear pain.

Ear discomfort comes with the territory of high-altitude travel—flying, of course, but it can also happen when driving in the mountains. When your body climbs (or falls) in altitude faster than it takes for your inner ear to adjust to the changing air pressure, your eardrum swells, causing congestion in the inner ear’s eustachian tube. This can result in pain and muffled hearing, which is no fun for anybody—especially kids.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent that painful clogged sensation before taking off on your travels.

  • Antihistamine or decongestant tablets: Take the recommended dose before starting your travel, which may help limit mucus and discomfort.
  • Nasal spray: Though not recommended for long-term use, a nasal decongestant spray on the day of your air or car travel helps dry up mucus and relieve ear discomfort. Follow package directions for the proper dosages for all age levels.
  • Earplugs: Most airports and pharmacies stock air pressure-regulating earplugs, which help to slow the rate of air pressure change in the inner ear. These might be ideal for the kids, if you’re hoping to avoid giving them medications.

Still, if you find yourself en route and someone in the family is experiencing ear troubles, you’ll want to know how to alleviate the discomfort as soon as possible. To do this, you’ll want to find ways to open up that eustachian tube and equalize the air pressure inside and outside the ear. Try the following methods:

  • Otovent balloon: This is created specifically for kids. Otovent is a small balloon your child can blow up, using one nostril at a time to open the eustachian tube, alleviating symptoms.
  • Gum or candy: It’s easier to naturally equalize air pressure if you swallow, yawn or chew, so keep some gum or lozenges on hand. For babies, consider using a bottle or pacifier.
  • Yawning: We all know how to do this one. Yawning (or faking a yawn) can help “pop” the ear and equalize pressure.
  • Pinch your nostrils: Attempting to swallow or blow out air through the nose while pinching the nostrils can generate pressure in the back of the nose and pop the ears.
  • Heat compress: Applying a warm compress directly to the ear can help open the eustachian tube and clear out congestion. This one’s most helpful for clogged ears caused by sickness, but it’s still worth a shot! If you’re looking to make a compress while on a plane, come prepared with two washcloths and a plastic zip-lock bag. Ask a flight attendant for warm water and use it to dampen one of the cloths; then secure the damp cloth in the zip-lock. Wrap the plastic bag in the dry cloth and press the compress to the bothersome ear. It should retain heat for about 20 minutes.

If your child has experienced ear problems and had his or her ear tubes placed, you might recall the secondhand struggles of ear pain and find yourself hesitant to take the family anywhere by plane. It’s understandable. But fortunately for everyone, those ear tubes should actually help you and your child: An ear tube creates an extra, synthetic eustachian tube, which usually eliminates the risk of ear discomfort during altitude changes—so that’s one less thing to worry about.