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Ear Infections: Lifestyle Management

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This information was reviewed and approved by Cameran Collins, PA-C (11/1/2018).

Commonly Heard Ear Popping

If you hear a little pop sound or ear popping in your ear when you swallow or open your jaw, then a small air bubble came from the back of the nose to the middle ear. Usually the air pressure in the ear is equal on both sides of the eardrum, but when it is not, it feels blocked. Opening of the Eustachian tube that occurs with swallowing or opening the jaw equalizes the air pressure, giving you the ‘pop’ sensation.


Unblocking You or a Child’s Ears

Swallowing or yawning are two common ways to unblock your ears because both actions open the Eustachian tubes. When trying to unblock babies’ ears, the child should suck on a bottle or pacifier.


Preventing Ear Infections

Proactively treat your allergies. Know when your allergy season(s) start and take your medicine.

Use a nasal wash every day (unless you have an ear infection).

Wash your hands frequently to avoid upper respiratory infections, which are commonly associated with ear infections.


Earwax Management

Earwax (cerumen) is your body’s way of cleaning the ears. It also helps protect and lubricate the ears. Too little earwax causes dry, itchy ears. Too much earwax can be bothersome.

The ears should never have to be cleaned, but if you feel you need to, you must be very careful. You do not want to push the wax deeper into your ear where it can cause other problems. Clean the outer part of the ear with a cloth, but do not put anything into the ear canal. Do not use cotton swabs, bobby pins or other items to clean wax out of your ears. These can push wax deep in the ear and pack the wax in too tight, blocking the eardrum.

Over the counter ear drops may help soften ear wax such that the body’s self-cleaning mechanism may resume. Cerumen impaction is the most common cause of hearing loss, and is easily treated. If you have impacted earwax please contact your health care provider.


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