Think of all the times when you were traveling by airplane, going on a road trip to the mountains, or traveling underground in a tunnel. Do you remember all the times when you suddenly experienced a “pop” in your ears? Wasn’t it an extremely uncomfortable affair?
Ear popping can be a pretty irksome experience for most individuals. Imagine having a constant uneasiness inside your ear, every time you experience a change in altitude or air pressure. Makes all those long hours in the flight extra uncomfortable right?
Although in most cases, ear-popping might just occur due to simple events like seasonal allergies, change in air pressure outside the body, or minor flu, sometimes it might be indicative of a grave disease or health issue lurking behind the shadows.
If you’re here trying to figure out why your ears have been constantly popping, whether you require any further diagnosis, and trying to figure your way around the uneasiness, this blog is definitely the one for you! Read on until the very end to get a complete guide on ear popping!
What Do We Mean by Ear Popping?
Ear popping is a biological phenomenon through which the air pressure inside the body is adjusted in order to suit the air pressure outside the body.
Sometimes, when there is an imbalance in air pressure between the outsides and the outside of the body, especially when an individual has reached a much higher altitude, the body automatically tries to equalize the pressure within itself.
This is why, the body exerts pressure on the eardrums, in order to prevent them from expanding or contracting. While the body releases the extra pressure, it creates the “pop” sound.
If the air pressure fluctuates rapidly, the ear-popping becomes a lot more frequent! This is why, during traveling, you might feel your ears pop a lot more than normal!
Causes of Ear Popping
The human body is a complicated system, consisting of muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones that come together and work in a sophisticated manner to achieve a specific function.
Now that we have covered the basic reasons as to why our ears might pop under certain situations, let me tell you that there are a lot of other possible reasons and underlying health conditions behind your frequent ear pops. Let us take a detailed look at some of the causes behind the uneasy, frequent ear popping!
- Clogged Eustachian Tubes
One of the reasons behind your ears popping quite frequently can be a clogged eustachian tube. For those who have skipped your biology lessons and are not aware of what a eustachian tube is, it is a tiny channel that connects your ears to the sinus region of your nose.
The eustachian tube is responsible for stabilizing the fluids located within the inner ear and for maintaining the air pressure within the ears.
Sometimes, allergies can trigger the eustachian tube to get clogged with mucus or dead foreign particles, causing it to close up. This can cause an imbalance in air pressure between the inner ear and the outside atmosphere, leading to frequent ear pops!
- Infections in the Middle Ear Region
Another reason why you must have been experiencing an ear-popping sensation on a frequent basis is due to infections in the middle ear region. Oftentimes, due to the accumulation of pus and dead cells, the eustachian tube gets completely blocked.
This causes a severe form of infection known as Acute Otitis Media, occurring in the middle ear region and causing an imbalance in air pressure between the inside and outside regions of the ear.
- Middle Ear Myoclonus
Middle Ear Myoclonus, also known as MEM is an ear problem that is caused by an involuntary muscular spasm in the middle ear region. In this particular kind of disease, the muscles connected to the three small bones in the middle ear go through involuntary spasms.
This causes the bones in the middle ear, especially the Strapedius or the Tymphanus bones to constantly vibrate, causing frequent ear popping in certain individuals.
- Temporomandibular Joint Problems
Temporomandibular Joint is a particular region that forms a connection between the upper jaw region and the other portions of the skull.
If a particular individual is suffering from TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Problems, there might be absolutely nothing wrong with your ear! However, TMJ can cause you to hear some eerie noise within your ears.
How Can You Pop Your Ears Safely?
In order to get rid of the constant uneasiness of the ear crackling, you need to take things into your own hands. By that, we mean you must learn how to voluntarily pop your own ears safely, to avoid the sudden irksome pops!
- Swallowing: One way to make your ears pop safely is by swallowing. The act of swallowing makes a proper engagement of the eustachian tube that helps to clear out the tract.
- Yawning: You must have noticed that your ears tend to get blocked while you yawn. Yawning helps to create a pressure that ensures the eustachian tube maintains and stabilizes the air pressure within the ear.
- Chewing: Just like swallowing or yawning, even the act of chewing helps to clear out the eustachian tube and unclog it to balance out the pressure.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Although we have clearly established the fact that ear-popping in itself is not a dangerous affair. However, if accompanied by a high fever or an intense pain in the ears, it can possibly indicate a serious health issue.
You must consult a doctor if the pain, pressure, and fever persist along with ear-popping for a prolonged period of time.
Ear popping can be extremely uncomfortable and ruin your mood if you’ve been facing it frequently.
The sad thing is, we cannot keep the ear-popping in check.
However, we can practice a combination of the aforementioned exercises to keep it in check as possible.