ZocdocAnswersWhy do my ears pop when I swallow?

Question

Why do my ears pop when I swallow?

My ears have been popping when I swallow. I don't know why. The only thing I can think is that I did have a cold but I am no longer congested and I don't think that would have anything to do with it.

Answer

You have probably already identified your problem by commenting that you recently had a cold! Your ears are drained via the eustachian tube, which is a very thin tube connecting the middle part of your ear to the back of your throat. The eustachian tube drains in the back of your throat, which is the area that is often affected when you have a cold, as the entire lining of your mouth and throat can become inflamed and make extra mucous. Because your ear is lined by the same tissue as your mouth, the lining of the eustachian tube can also become inflamed. Because it is such a thin tube, any inflammation causes a decrease in the diameter of the tube, i.e., the opening is smaller. When the eustachian tube is inflamed and narrow, it is more difficult for your ears to maintain the same internal pressure as the outside world. For this reason, when you chew or yawn or otherwise stretch open your eustachian tube, your ears are finally able to "pop" and change to the same pressure. While it is uncomfortable, it does usually go away in a few weeks. Please see your doctor, especially if your symptoms persist, you have hearing loss, or you have other complaints.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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