How To Pop Your Ears: 6 Easy Ways to Do It Safely

Edited by Petar Denoble, MD, DSc & James Chimiak, MD

For boaters on a long voyage, dehydration can be a serious problem. But did you know that it also affects your ability to pop, or "equalize", your ears?

Keep in mind that there are some medical complications that can make it hard for you to pop your ears. Upper respiratory tract infections, hay fever, allergies, cigarette smoking, snorting drugs, or a deviated nasal septum can all compromise your ability to relieve the pressure in your ears. If you suffer from any of these conditions, try each of the techniques listed below to find the one that works best you.

6 Effective Equalization Techniques

When done properly, these simple techniques are safe and effective for both middle-ear and sinus issues in healthy people. Each one is slightly different so you may want to try more than one in order to find the one that works best you.

  1. Voluntary tubal opening: Try yawning or wiggling your jaw.
  2. Valsalva maneuver: Pinch your nostrils, and gently blow through your nose.
  3. Toynbee maneuver: Pinch your nostrils and swallow.
  4. Frenzel maneuver: Pinch your nostrils while contracting your throat muscles, and make the sound of the letter "k".
  5. Lowry technique: Pinch your nostrils, and gently try to blow air out of your nose while swallowing. (Think Valsalva maneuver meets the Toynbee maneuver).
  6. Edmonds technique: Push your jaw forward, and employ the Valsalva maneuver or the Frenzel maneuver.

What to Do When Your Ears Won't Pop

It usually only takes a few tries to equalize your ears. If you start to experience ear pain, or if you still can't relieve the pressure after two weeks, consult a physician. There may be an underlying condition that's causing the clogged feeling in your ears.


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