How to Pop Your Ears: 8 Tips
Having clogged ears can be uncomfortable and may muffle your hearing. When this happens, popping your ears may help.
Popping your ears is generally safe. It usually requires little more than moving your mouth muscles. Regardless of the technique you try, be gentle. If your symptoms worsen, stop trying to pop your ears and consult your doctor.
If you try to unclog your ears with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications, avoid prolonged use. If your symptoms persist, talk to your doctor.
There are several techniques you can try to unclog or pop your ears:
When you swallow, your muscles automatically work to open the Eustachian tube. This tube connects the middle ear to the back of your nose.
Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy can also help activate this response.
Yawning also helps open the Eustachian tube. If you can’t yawn on cue, try a fake yawn. Open your mouth as wide as it will go while breathing in and out. This may have the same result. Try “yawning” every few minutes until your ears pop.
3. Valsalva maneuver
Pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers. Try to keep your cheeks neutral, or pulled in, rather than puffed out. Next, blow air gently through your nostrils. This generates pressure in the back of the nose, which may help open the Eustachian tube.
4. Toynbee maneuver
For this technique, pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers while swallowing. Some research indicates that the Toynbee maneuver is just as effective as the Valsalva maneuver, though results differ from person to person. You may want to try both to determine which method works best for you.
5. Applying a warm washcloth
Holding a warm washcloth or covered heating pad against the ear can help eliminate congestion and open the Eustachian tube. This method can also feel soothing. It may be most effective if you have clogged ears due to a cold, the flu, or allergies.
6. 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. You may want to try the Valsalva or Toynbee maneuver after using a decongestant.
7. Nasal corticosteroids
There are many OTC nasal steroids you can try. Nasal steroids may help unclog your ears by reducing the amount of inflammation in the nasal passages. This can help air move more freely through the Eustachian tube, equalizing the pressure in your ears.
8. Ventilation tubes
In extreme cases, your doctor may recommend this simple surgical technique to eliminate pain and reduce pressure. For the procedure, your doctor will administer local anesthesia. Then, they’ll insert thin ventilation tubes, also known as pressure equalizing (PE) tubes, in one or both of your ears to drain out excess fluid.
The procedure takes around ten minutes. It’s usually performed in a doctor’s office, although it may also be done in a hospital. Ventilation tubes are designed to fall out on their own. This typically happens after one or two years.
The Eustachian tube supplies air to the middle ear. This helps maintain equal amounts of pressure on both sides of the eardrum.
If there’s a difference in pressure, your eardrum may bulge inward or outward in response. This causes that familiar feeling of fullness in the ear.
Popping your ears helps move the eardrum back into place, alleviating the imbalance of pressure, and eliminating or reducing your discomfort.
The Eustachian tube typically opens automatically when you swallow, blow your nose, or yawn. When you do these motions, you’ll often hear a clicking, or popping, sound. The sound is caused by air entering the middle ear through the Eustachian tube.
If the tube does not open easily, it may be obstructed. This can be caused by fluid, mucus, or earwax.
Sometimes your ears may clog and unclog themselves naturally. This usually happens due to changes in the surrounding air pressure. If you’re climbing to a high altitude — for example, flying on an airplane or driving up a high mountain range — your ears may pop as they adjust to the air pressure around you.
If you can’t pop or unclog your ears two weeks or longer, or are experiencing pain in the ear, consult your doctor.
Your doctor can rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing this sensation. These may include:
A clogged eardrum can sometimes bulge to the bursting point, leading to a perforated eardrum. This may occur during activities involving rapid pressure changes, such as air travel or scuba diving. A perforated eardrum requires a doctor’s care. This condition typically dissipates within two weeks. Some cases may require an eardrum patch or surgery.
Popping your ears is usually safe and effective, as long as you’re gentle. Ear popping usually works within a few tries. If you have a cold or sinus congestion, a decongestant may also be helpful.
Check out: 9 ways to get water out of your ear »
How to Pop Your Ears
In normal circumstances, the air pressure on both sides of each of your eardrums is roughly equal. But various situations can cause an imbalance in pressure, making your ears feel as if they are plugged up and your hearing is muffled.
For example, when you are flying in a plane, air pressure in the cabin reduces, while the pressure in the inner ear remains constant. This causes the eardrum to bulge outward. On the other hand, during scuba diving, the pressure on the outer ear increases as compared to the inner ear, causing the eardrum to bulge inward. In both cases, you can experience a stuffy, plugged up feeling in your ears.
Blocked or clogged ears can also be a symptom of certain health conditions, such as adenoids, an ear infection, allergies, earwax buildup, a common cold and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), to name a few.
Clogged or stuffy ears can be uncomfortable and may affect your hearing capability. When this happens, popping your ears may help.
Popping your ears is generally safe and provides quick relief from discomfort. There are many simple and effective ways to pop your ears.
Here are some of the ways to pop your ears.
The first tip to pop your ears is to try the swallowing technique. When you swallow, the muscles of your mouth automatically work to open the Eustachian tubes, so the pressure that has built up will equalize and provide instant relief.
- Hold your nose and close your mouth.
- Turn your head to the right, until your chin touches your shoulder.
- Swallow hard until your left ear pops.
- Next, turn your head to the left to pop your right ear.
- If needed, repeat the process.
You can also eat hard candy to make you swallow faster. For babies or toddlers, give them a beverage during a plane flight to encourage frequent swallowing.
Just like swallowing, yawning also helps pop your ears. Yawning opens the Eustachian tubes and allows air to flow in or out of the middle ear, thus helping equalize the air pressure on both sides of the eardrums.
A large yawn is all that you need to pop your ears. However, if you can’t yawn on cue, try a fake yawn by opening your mouth as wide as it will go, while breathing in and out. Try fake yawning every few minutes until your ears pop.
A lot of people feel the urge to yawn whenever they see someone else yawn. So, you can watch some videos of people yawning to help get you going.
3. Valsalva Maneuver
This easy-to-perform technique can easily help pop your ears. It generates pressure in the back of the nose, which may help open the Eustachian tubes, in turn equalizing the air pressure in your ears.
It also relieves stuffiness and pain in the ears.
- Close your mouth and pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers.
- Keeping your cheeks neutral, take a deep breath.
- Blow air out gently through your nose to regulate the air pressure.
- Repeat until you hear a slight popping sound.
Caution: Don’t blow your nose too hard, as it may cause damage to the eardrums.
4. Toynbee Maneuver
This effective technique is a combination of the Valsalva maneuver and swallowing.
Here, you try to change the pressure within the middle ear by swallowing or gently blowing, while your nose is pinched closed and your mouth is tightly shut.
- Take a sip of water in your mouth.
- Pinch your nostrils closed with your fingers.
- Swallow the water you have in your mouth.
- You will soon hear the popping sound.
The Valsalva maneuver is effective for some people, while the Toynbee maneuver works better for others. So, try both methods to determine which works best for you.
5. Chewing Gum
To overcome a sudden change in air pressure that causes the ears to become clogged, try chewing gum.
This process of chewing will open up your Eustachian tubes, relieving the excess pressure in the ears and ultimately opening up clogged ears.
This is why it is highly recommended to keep chewing gum handy when travelling by air.
6. Warm Compress
Applying a warm washcloth against the affected ear is also effective at opening the Eustachian tubes to equalize air pressure in the ears. It also helps eliminate congestion, one of the key reasons behind blocked ears.
The heat from a warm compress will also help ease any pain.
- Soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess water and hold it over the affected ear for 5 minutes.
- Alternatively, wrap a hot water bottle in a thin towel and apply it to the clogged ear for 5 minutes.
7. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is another effective method, but only when you have clogged ears due to a cold, the flu or allergies. Steam helps loosen the mucus, which in turn provides quick relief from clogged ears.
- Pour hot water into a large bowl.
- Optionally, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to it.
- Cover your head with a towel to prevent the steam from escaping.
- Inhale the steam slowly until the clogged ear pops.
Instead of steam inhalation, taking a hot shower for about 10 minutes will have the same result.
8. Nasal Decongestants
Sometimes, all you need to do is unclog your nasal passageways to deal with clogged ears.
On Your Face, Back, At Home, and More
Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. Unfortunately, this type of inflammatory cyst is also the most difficult to get rid of on your own.
Most cysts don’t have heads. They’re located deep in your skin around the hair follicles. Sebaceous cysts are a combination of oil (sebum) and bacteria that gets trapped in this area.
This causes the infamous fluid-filled bumps. If irritated, these can become painful. They can also turn red from swelling.
Like other types of acne, you shouldn’t try to squeeze out a cyst in order to “pop” it. But there are things you can do at home that can help work the cyst out from deep in your skin so it comes out on its own.
This process takes time, so be patient as you await the results.
Acne cysts aren’t dangerous on their own, but they can become infected if you pick at them. Home remedies may help you get rid of the cyst safely without the risk of infection and scarring.
While you may want to pop your cyst open, you should never do so by squeezing or picking at it. Most cysts are nearly impossible to squeeze out with your fingers alone.
Plus, you can send bacteria and sebum deep below the hair follicles, causing the materials to spread and make even more cysts. Picking at your skin also increases the risk of scarring.
Instead of squeezing a cyst open, try home remedies that encourage the trapped substance in the clogged pore to exit.
It’s important to keep up with your regular cleansing routine while you’re trying to get rid of a cyst. This means cleansing your face twice a day and bathing daily. You may also consider gently washing the cyst alone up to three times per day.
Also, avoid scrubbing your cyst when you wash your face. This can irritate the area, making it more inflamed. In turn, you also make the cyst more noticeable. Use gentle, circular motions when washing your face, especially if you’re using an exfoliating cleanser.
Once the area surrounding the cyst is clean, apply a warm compress to the area. The warmth and moisture helps encourage the trapped substance to work its way out of the hair follicle without the need for popping the cyst.
You can also use a soft warm, moist washcloth for the same results. In either case, you can use this method up to three times per day for five to ten minutes at a time until the cyst drains.
A sebaceous cyst is usually more bothersome to look at than it is painful. However, these cysts can become inflamed (swollen). You’re especially at risk if you keep picking or scratching at the cyst.
Signs of an inflamed cyst include redness and swelling. The cyst may also grow in size. You can use ice to treat the inflammation in between warm compresses for drainage.
While the warmth helps to get rid of the trapped materials in the hair follicle, ice can help reduce redness and swelling. In turn, the cyst may decrease in size and overall appearance. Ice can also help with any pain that might arise.
While you might be most worried about cysts being noticed on your face, this type of acne is commonplace in hard-to-reach areas like your back. Sebaceous cysts can occur anywhere on your body except for the bottom of your hands and feet.
Working a cyst out of your back is a bit more challenging, logistically speaking. You can use the same home treatment methods as for your face. Since it’s hard to see pimples on your back, you need to use extra caution. You also want to avoid scratching at the cyst.
For hard-to-reach areas of your back, consider using a benzoyl peroxide body wash instead. You can also consider getting a back facial from a professional aesthetician or dermatologist. They can help remove the cyst from your back without using harsh chemicals.
It can take up to 12 weeks for an acne breakout to clear up. As frustrating as cysts are, patience is critical with home treatments. Simply squeezing a cyst can make it worse, trapping sebum and bacteria further underneath your skin.
If a cyst doesn’t improve with self-treatment after several weeks, it may be time to have your dermatologist take a look at it. Also, some cysts are so deep that they’re impossible to clear up at home.
Your dermatologist may drain the cyst or perhaps prescribe antibiotics or retinoids to help clear up your acne once and for all.
You should also see your doctor if you develop signs of an infection, such as increased redness, pus, and pain. Scars from cystic acne may also be treated by a dermatologist.
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How to Pop a Boil
If you develop a boil, you may be tempted to pop it or lance it (open with a sharp instrument) at home. Don’t do this. It may spread infection and make the boil worse.
Your boil may contain bacteria that could be dangerous if not properly treated. If your boil is painful or isn’t healing, have it checked by your doctor. They may need to surgically open and drain the boil and prescribe antibiotics.
Boils are caused by an inflammation of a hair follicle or sweat gland. Typically, the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus causes this inflammation.
A boil usually appears as a hard lump under the skin. It then develops into a firm balloon-like growth under the skin as it fills up with pus. A boil typically appears in crevices or places where sweat and oil can build up, such as:
- under arms
- waist area
- under breasts
- groin area
A boil commonly has a white or yellow center, which is caused by the pus inside it. The boil may spread to other areas of the skin. A cluster of boils connected to each other under the skin are called a carbuncle.
A boil can heal on its own. However, it may become more painful as pus continues to build up in the lesion. Instead of popping or picking at the boil, which can lead to infection, treat the boil with care. Follow these steps:
- Use a clean, warm cloth to apply a compress to the boil. You can repeat this several times a day in order to encourage the boil to come to a head and drain.
- Keep the area clean. Wash your hands after touching the affected area.
- If the boil is painful, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- When open, the boil may weep or ooze liquid. Once the boil opens, cover it to prevent infection in the open wound. Use an absorbent gauze or pad to prevent the pus from spreading. Change the gauze or pad frequently.
If your boil doesn’t heal with home treatment, you may need to see your doctor. Medical treatment may include:
- topical or oral antibiotics
- surgical incision
- tests to determine cause of boil
Surgical treatment usually involves draining the boil. Your doctor will make a small incision in the face of the boil. They’ll use an absorbent material such as gauze to soak up pus inside the boil.
Don’t attempt this at home. Your home isn’t a sterile environment like a hospital setting. You’re at risk of developing a more serious infection or scarring.
See your doctor if your boil:
- worsens quickly
- is accompanied by a fever
- hasn’t improved in two or more weeks
- is bigger than 2 inches across
- is accompanied by symptoms of infection
Resist the urge to pick at and pop your boil. Instead, apply warm compresses and keep the area clean.
If your boil doesn’t improve within two weeks or shows sign of serious infection, consult your doctor. They may recommend lancing and draining the boil and may prescribe antibiotics.
How to Pop Your Knee Safely
Cracking or popping noises coming from your knee are common, especially after you hit age 40. These popping noises are known as crepitus. Crepitus in your knee is often harmless, but it can sometimes indicate another health condition is present or developing.
If you sometimes feel a strange sensation in your knee joint — as if it’s inflated with air or locked into place — it may be accompanied by a strong desire to “pop” the knee back into place.
This can be done safely if you move slowly, carefully, and with intention.
The knee joint is a bit complicated. Layers of cartilage cushion the area between your tibia and fibula (shin) bones to your femur (thigh) bone. Your knee joint is covered by another bone called the patella (kneecap). If you feel any pain while you attempt to crack your knee, stop right away.
Simple stretch to pop your knee
- Take the pressure off your knee by sitting down.
- Extend your leg straight in front of you and point your toe upward.
- Raise your leg up as high as it can go. Bend your knee in and out toward the rest of your body until you hear a pop.
There are two types of knee pops:
- Pathological knee pops are those that only you can feel or hear.
- Physiological knee pops are loud enough that everyone can hear.
Knee cracking that’s physiological and frequent is a sign you may need physical therapy or further testing to determine the underlying issue with your knee joint.
Your joints are coated in lubricant called synovial fluid. This fluid contains oxygen and nitrogen, among other elements. Occasionally, the gases from this lubricant can build up and need to be released, causing a “crack” in your knees.
But the causes of crepitus aren’t always so straightforward. In fact, researchers are still working to learn more about what causes these popping and cracking sounds in our joints.
Bones that break and don’t heal correctly and tendons that catch on the ridges of your bones and muscles as you move are other causes of knee cracking.
As you age, the cartilage in your knees can become worn. This deterioration of your knee joint can cause it to feel “creaky” as bone rubs on bone when you move your knees.
Sometimes, pain in your knee joint can be a red flag indicating a knee injury or other developing health condition.
If you’re ever injured and feel a “pop” at your knee at the time of injury, there’s a chance a tendon cracked or a bone fractured. Seek medical attention to see if you need further testing.
Make a doctor’s appointment for your knee if you notice:
- redness or swelling around your kneecap that occasionally appears
- fever after exercising or injury
- tenderness or pain when you touch your knee
- consistent pain with walking or jogging
Serious symptoms mean you might need to go to the emergency room. These include:
- inability to bend your knee
- knee popping or cracking at the time of an injury
- intense pain
- swelling that appears without warning or apparent cause
Cracking your knee is safe if pain or injury don’t accompany the sound. Experimenting with joint-loosening exercise, like Pilates and yoga, could make your joints more flexible. You can also ask your doctor for their recommendations.
Don’t ever try to crack a joint that’s giving you pain. Be aware that frequent cracking and popping from your knee could be a sign of injury or another developing health condition that needs medical attention.
How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove
Have you ever done it? Have you ever popped your own popcorn on the stove? That’s the way we used to do it when I was little (shortly after electricity was invented and before microwaves began invading people’s kitchens). It’s the best way to pop perfect popcorn, all kernels popped and none of those ingredients that you can’t pronounce on the side of the microwave popcorn bag.
Here’s how you pop popcorn on the stove:
You need three things: Canola or vegetable oil, sea salt and popcorn (I think the Orville Redenbacher brand works best). You might wish to have butter or some other kind of seasoning to toss with your popcorn. I’m going to give you all kinds of recommendations for how to jazz up your popcorn at the end of this post.
Choose a pot that has a pretty large surface area. Mine was 5-inches deep and 9-inches across. You don’t want the popcorn kernels to be crowded too much or piled on top of each other. Before you get started, make sure you have a lid that fits on the top of that pot 🙂
You’ll need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. I used 3 to 4 tablespoons for 1 cup of popcorn. Add the oil to a COLD pan.
Add your popcorn kernels to the COLD oil.
Make sure the kernels are all coated with oil and are sitting in a shallow puddle of it.
They should be all spread out in the pan like this- not piled on top of each other.
Add a little bit of sea salt to the coated kernels. I like to add salt in the cooking process, and sometimes I add more after it’s all popped too. You can skip this part if you prefer to add it after.
Turn the heat to medium and heat up the kernels and the oil at the same time. Shake the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the heat to all sides of the kernels. Keep shaking it back and forth. It’ll be a little noisy. Your spouse may tell you, “Shhhhhhh!” because he can’t hear the TV. Not that my spouse did that or anything. I’m just sayin’.
Eventually (a minute or three or four later), the first kernel will pop.
Get the lid on your pot quickly because that popped kernel has a whole lot of friends who are going to begin popping almost immediately. Keep sliding the pot back and forth over the heat until all kernels are popped. Tell your spouse to go hang out in the backyard if he’s still griping about the noise.
In just a few minutes, the popping sounds will slow down and come to a halt. Remove your pot from the heat, and you’re ready to jazz up your popcorn for consumption!
You can certainly top your stove-popped popcorn with a generous amount of melted, salted butter. Sometimes I love it that way best. But I’m going to give you a whole lot of suggestions for making regular old popcorn way more delicious. I’ve gotta thank my Facebook followers for those suggestions, since they left me like a gazillion ideas for serving up popcorn in super cool and delicious ways. Here are the suggestions that sounded best to me:
A few sweet (dessert) suggested add-ins:
1. chocolate syrup + peanut butter
3. mix in junior mints, hot tamales, chocolate chips, reeses pieces, m&m’s or sugar babies
4. maple syrup
5. melt marshmallows with brown sugar and butter and mix in
And the savory suggested add-ins:
1. sea salt + freshly ground pepper
2. maple and bacon
3. Parmesan + freshly chopped rosemary
4. butter + cajun spice + brown sugar
5. fajita seasoning
6. cayenne pepper or tabasco
7. Parmesan and pepper
8. butter-flavored olive oil
9. ranch seasoning
10. white truffle oil + Parmesan
11. brewers/nutritional yeast
12. chili oil + garlic powder + curry powder
13. cheese packet from a macaroni & cheese box
14. Old Bay Seasoning
15. Dill pickle seasoning (not sure I’ve ever seen that)
16. Meat tenderizer (what?? Really?)
See how easy it is? And how many fun things you can add in? Kids go nuts over stove popcorn too since the whole “popping” process is noisy and scientifically amazing. And man, it tastes waaaaaaaay better. Please tell me that you’ll end the microwave popcorn madness. It’s just as easy to do on the stove, it pops up perfectly and with just three ingredients- you know what’s in your popcorn. It also makes for good snuggle, TV/Movie-watching time on the couch. Now go pop away!
This method turns out popcorn that is popped… all of it! And it’s so much better than microwave.
Yield: Roughly 24 cups (6 servings)
Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:10 min
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup popcorn kernels (I prefer Orville Redenbacher)
sea salt (optional)
melted butter or additional toppings or mix-ins, as desired
1. Take out a pot with a large surface area (one that has a matching lid). A 5-inch deep, 9-inches across pot is perfect for 1 cup of popcorn.
2. Pour in the oil and then add the popcorn kernels. Sprinkle in a bit of sea salt, if desired. Shake the pan around to evenly distribute the kernels and coat them with oil. The pan should be big enough so that the kernels are not over-crowded and/or piled on top of each other.
3. Turn heat to medium and begin to slide the pot back and forth over the burner. Keep sliding/shaking the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the heat to all sides of the kernels. Eventually (3-5 minutes later), the first kernel will pop. At this point, put the lid on the pan. Keep sliding/shaking the pan back and forth and the other kernels will begin to pop. Keep that pan moving back and forth until the popping slows down and the kernels are all popped. Remove the pan from heat.
4. Toss popcorn with melted butter and/or other seasonings, and serve immediately.
How to Stop Pop-Ups on Android
Few things are more annoying than when you settle in to read an interesting article you’ve found while surfing on your Android device only to have a ginormous pop-up fly around the screen and block your view. It’s time to make it stop.
Editor’s Note 11/10/2018: From AT&T to Project Fi, Black Friday is upon us and we’re hand-picking the best cellphone plans and deals of 2018.
MORE: 15 Best Mobile Privacy and Security Apps
While no pop-up blocking method is 100 percent foolproof, with the right security practices, you can keep most of the digital gnats away from you the next time you’re browsing the web on your Android phone. The method outlined below was tested in Android Nougat, but the process is exactly the same in Android Oreo, which is making its way to increasingly more Android devices over time, including the Samsung Galaxy S8. Here are the steps you need to follow.
1. Open the Chrome, the default browser on Android.
2. Tap More (the three vertical dots) at the top-right of the screen.
3. Touch Settings.
4. Scroll down to Site settings.
5. Touch Pop-Ups to get to the slider that turns off pop-ups.
6. Touch the slider button again to disable the feature.
If you want more aggressive pop-up or advertisement blocking, then you’ll need to go with a third-party browser. Unlike Chrome for the desktop, the mobile version of Chrome for Android currently does not work with any plugins. However, alternatives like Firefox and Samsung Internet do.
One offering is Ghostery, which is a popular blocker and privacy-focused extension. On Android, it comes in the form of a full-blown browser that gives you visibility of the types of trackers that are on websites. Here’s how to block pop-ups using that app. (Again, this method will work in Oreo just as it works in Nougat.)
1. Touch the Settings cog.
2. Touch Block Popups.
Additionally, you can go to Ghostery > Tracker Blocking Options and then select Block Everything for the most aggressive blocking option.
This will reduce the chance that you’ll see any pesky pop-ups that will ruin your mobile browsing experience.
Competing browsers offer a similar function, but Ghostery has the most aggressive reputation at blocking nuisances like pop-ups. On the other hand, Google’s work with Chrome ensures it will likely be a fast option and integrate deeply with Android, so using that browser with blocking turned on is also a solid choice.
While it doesn’t seem like Chrome will allow third-party ad blockers anytime soon, Google introduced support for the Better Ads Experience Program in Chrome back in February. Through this system, Chrome automatically removes ads that breach the Coalition for Better Ads’ criteria. It’s not a full replacement for a dedicated plugin, but it’s better than nothing.