Typically, the air pressure inside the inner ear and the air pressure outside of the body are the same. When the air pressure outside the body and inside the ear is not the same, it can cause a feeling of fullness, pain, or clogging in the ears. Most individuals experience this when they fly on a plane or travel to higher altitudes. It may also occur when diving underwater.
Children are at particular risk of experiencing painful ears during pressure changes since they have shorter Eustachian tubes than adults. Ear popping equalizes the pressure inside and outside the ear and relieves pain and other symptoms associated with pressure changes. Care must be taken when popping the ears; doing so incorrectly could lead to complications such as hearing loss and a ruptured eardrum.
Forcing A Yawn
Forcing a yawn is typically one of the first methods individuals attempt when they experience painful ear pressure changes. To force a yawn, individuals should open their mouths as wide as is comfortable for them. While their mouth is open, they should then breathe in and out deeply. Doctors recommend doing this every two minutes or so until the ears pop. To help ears pop more easily, patients may combine this technique with licking their lips or chewing gum. Patients can also use this technique to prevent a painful buildup of pressure in the ears. To use it in this manner, patients can force a yawn every two minutes or so at the start of their trip to higher altitudes, and this will help equalize the pressure.