Ear Popping in Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Ear infections may arise for several reasons when you are expecting a child. Pregnant women may have a higher chance of getting an ear infection than nonpregnant women due to changes in their immune system and hormonal fluctuations. If anything like this happens to you, don’t get too worked up about it, as ear infections can be common during pregnancy.
However, if you do get an infection while pregnant, it’s crucial to see your doctor promptly. Ignoring ear infections might be harmful to your health and that of your growing kid if they remain unaddressed, potentially leading to complications. Ear popping in pregnancy too is a common occurrence. Keep reading about ears popping while pregnant to know more about managing and preventing such issues.
What Is Ears Popping?
Ear popping is the term used to describe the sensation of hearing muted sounds due to changes in air pressure. You may have Eustachian tube dysfunction, which is causing your popping ears (ETD). Another option is that your ear has been clogged with wax and has to be cleaned out. Ear barotrauma (also known as barotitis medium) is the medical term for the condition that causes ears to pop.
Why and How Does Ears Popping Happen?
The air pressure in and out of the ear is usually the same unless something unusual happens. The ear canal can become inflamed and inaccessible if the Eustachian tube becomes plugged. Its principal role is to balance the air pressure within the middle ear and its pressure.
The Eustachian tube, on the other hand, may get clogged for several reasons. When this happens, there will be no equalization of air pressure in the Eustachian tube. Popping noises are caused by a difference in air pressure between the middle ear and the outside environment, which occurs in the middle ear.
What Causes Ears Popping During Pregnancy?
In general, being pregnant makes you more susceptible to diseases. Changes in your ear, nose, and throat that may occur during pregnancy may increase your chances of acquiring an ear infection, in particular if you have a cold or flu. A bacterial ear infection may occur due to a condition of either the bacterial or viral kind.
Some of the common problems of ear-popping during pregnancy that may increase the risk of this occurring include:
- Hormonal Changes: Increased estrogen and progesterone levels are seen during pregnancy. These hormones may affect your body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to sickness caused by bacteria and viruses than usual. Right now, it is not clear how hormones and viruses are linked in a precise manner.
- Increase in Blood Flow: As blood flow rises in your body, more fluid is retained in the body. Furthermore, as a result of this, there may be further implications. For example, you may have noticed that your nose gets swollen and congested when pregnant. If you have a lot of fluid in your nose and sinus, you may be more prone to getting an ear infection during your pregnancy.
- Vertigo and Dizziness: These are also possible due to changes in the ear that occur during pregnancy.
- Meniere’s disease: A prior condition such as Meniere’s disease may influence your hearing and balance when you are pregnant.
- Seasonal allergies, colds, and flu: Seasonal allergies and diseases increase the likelihood of ear and other infections, but notably in children (1).
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Popping During Pregnancy
An inner ear infection or damage may result in the following ears popping early pregnancy signs and symptoms:
- Ringing in the Ears: The sound of the high-pitched ringing sound. This is the tinnitus sound that is most frequently experienced. Loud noises exposures, loss of hearing, and some drugs are all possible reasons.
- Ear Infections: If you have an ear infection, it is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection that infects your middle ears (the parts of your ear that are immediately beyond the diaphragm).
- Inflammation of the Ears: Otitis Externa is a disorder that causes inflammation of the outer ear canal (redness and swelling), the tube that connects the cochlea to the eardrum.
- Discomfort around the Ears: Flu, allergens, or a sinus infection may all cause the tubes in your middle ear to become clogged and ineffective. Otitis media is used when fluid builds up in the middle of the throat and becomes infected. It is by far the most prevalent reason for ear discomfort.
- Hearing Loss: A hearing loss may occur when any portion of the ear or auditory (hearing) function does not function in the manner that it is supposed to.
- Redness and swelling of the ear canal: Your ear, surrounding the cartilage, will be inflamed, reddish, and sensitive to the touch.
- Dizziness or imbalance: This is due to the interconnected nature of the ear, balance, and pressure regulation. Changes in pressure can affect the inner ear’s balance mechanisms, potentially causing temporary dizziness or unsteadiness, which can be uncomfortable but usually subsides as the ear pressure equalizes.
How to Manage and Treat Ear Popping During Pregnancy?
You may also choose to supplement your ear-popping treatment with other options for managing the same. For safe ears popping when pregnant, these pointers need to be carefully considered:
- Depending on whether you have ear wax or water lodged in your ears, a simple cleaning with an earbud may be all that is required.
- Decongestants for the nose
- Oral medications
- Inhaling steam may assist in easing any popping sounds you may be experiencing as a result of sinus infection or allergies.
- Applying heat packs to your ears might help to ease the pain and suffering associated with this condition.
- It is also possible that yawning or chewing gum will prevent you from experiencing popping sounds in your Eustachian tube if you have to travel during your pregnancy (2).
Home Remedies to Treat Ears Popping During Pregnancy
Treatment with home remedies may effectively alleviate ear-popping symptoms. For earaches, the following are some examples of home remedies to try:
- Ear Drops: These are made from ruby alcohol, and vinegar are available (do not take this cure if you have additional concerns with your ears, such as damage to the canal)
- Warm Compress: A hot water bottle or towel with herbal drops in it may be used in place of the traditional compresses to relieve the discomfort (clear this with an OB during pregnancy)
- Steam: Inhaling steam is one of the quickest and most effective ways to remove plugged ears caused by a cold. The steam will aid in loosening and thinning the mucus, which will relieve your ear congestion and relieve your discomfort.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Using hydrogen peroxide, is quite successful. Using a dropper, gently inject three per cent hydrogen peroxide into the infected ear.
- Olive Oil: It is possible to apply a few drops of olive oil to the ear and leave it there for five to ten minutes. While keeping your head swivelling to the side, you may use cotton to remove any oil or earwax accumulated in your ears.
1. Is Ear Popping While Pregnant Harmful to the Baby?
Ear popping while pregnant is generally not harmful to the baby. It’s usually a result of changes in pressure in the ear due to hormonal and physiological changes in the mother’s body.
2. Can You Fly During Pregnancy If You Experience Ear Popping?
Yes, you can fly during pregnancy even if you experience ear popping. However, it’s advisable to consult your healthcare provider before flying, especially if you’re in the later stages of pregnancy, to ensure it’s safe for you and your baby. They may provide recommendations to minimize discomfort, such as swallowing frequently, using earplugs, or taking decongestants if necessary.
According to specialists, ears popping in early pregnancy is considered more annoyance than a cause for alarm. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing popping sounds in your ear to rule out any serious problems. Avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat ear infections, and never puncture your ears with a sharp object. Did you have ear-popping when you were expecting a child? What process did you use to come up with a solution? Please keep these above-discussed points in mind to help you have a healthy and safe pregnancy.
1. Ear Barotrauma; Cedars Sinai; https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/e/ear-barotrauma.html
2. Airplane Ear; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/airplane-ear/symptoms-causes/syc-20351701
3. Air Travel; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/air-land-sea/air-travel
4. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction; Johns Hopkins Medicine; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/eustachian-tube-dysfunction
5. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22527-eustachian-tube-dysfunction
6. How To Pop and Unclog Your Ears; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-pop-your-ears/
7. Sherlie. V, Varghese. A; ENT Changes of Pregnancy and Its Management (Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918343/; January 2012
8. Swain. S, Pati. B, Mohanty. J; Otological manifestations in pregnant women – A study at a tertiary care hospital of eastern India (Journal of Otology); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7452357/; November 2019