Pregnancy can lead to several health issues, which are almost always a part of the process. However, strange symptoms, such as the sounds of ears popping during pregnancy, may also occur.
While it is a normal event, the symptoms may also signal a serious underlying issue in some cases. You are not alone if you find yourself identifying with these issues. Read on to know why your ears make popping sounds in pregnancy and how it can be managed.
What Is Ears Popping?
Ear popping refers to muffled sounds inside the ear due to differences in the air pressure. Ear popping may mean you suffer from some Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD). It may also mean that your ear is full of wax, and you need to clean it.
Normally, the air pressure inside the ear and outside is the same. But many reasons can block the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nasal passage and throat. When this happens, the Eustachian tube is unable to maintain the right air pressure in the air. It is then you may feel the need to pop your ears to clear the stuffiness inside or hear a popping sound coming from your ears.
The medical term for ears popping is ear barotrauma or barotitis media. Ear popping is a generic name for the problem (1).
Causes Of Ear Popping During Pregnancy
Ear popping sounds may occur due to many reasons.
- Ear popping normally occurs during air travel, at higher altitudes or underwater when the outside air pressure constantly changes.
- It can also occur due to an ear or sinus infection. Eardrum can rupture and cause problems in the Eustachian tube. Cold, allergies and other respiratory infections can also cause ear popping sounds.
- A defect in the Eustachian tube can also be congenital (since/before birth) (2).
Symptoms Of Ears Popping WhileÂ Pregnant
Here are some symptoms that may indicate ear problems and the source of the popping sounds inside the ears:
- Discomfort inside the ear
- Feeling of stuffiness in the ear
- Temporary hearing loss
Managing Ears Popping During Pregnancy
Your ear problems during pregnancy can be for any number of reasons. But the important thing is to consult your doctor to rule out any severe medical reasons for the same.
For popping sounds due to mild problems inside the ear, your doctor may suggest some easy treatment options such as chewing gum, yawning or stretching. If the problem is ear wax or may be trapped water inside your ears, simple cleanup with an ear bud may help.
Your doctor may also suggest other treatments depending on your pregnancy health.
- Oral decongestants
- Nasal sprays
There are also other measures you can try.
- Steam inhalation may provide you relief from sinus infections or allergies and thus any popping sounds.
- Use of heating pads over your ears can ease the pain.
- Chewing gum or yawning can also help you with minimizing any problems in your Eustachian tube and prevent popping sounds in case you need to air travel during your pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can stress cause ear popping?
Persistent stress and anxiety can cause patulous Eustachian tube dysfunction. In this condition, the Eustachian tube remains open, letting the sound travel from the nasal cavity to the ears. It is this sound travel that causes individuals to hear different sounds like ear popping (3).
Can high blood pressure cause ear popping problems?
High blood pressure affects the blood vessels throughout the body, including the ears. Hence, high blood pressure may cause ear problems. However, whether high blood pressure causes ear popping or not is unclear.
Can I go deaf from ears popping?
Ear popping in itself can’t cause hearing loss. However, there are several reasons, such as chronic, untreated Eustachian tube dysfunction that might lead to hearing loss in some cases (4).
Ear popping during pregnancy seems more like a hassle than a cause for concern. It can simply be caused by an ear obstruction produced by ear wax or by an ear or sinus infection. Consult your doctor to rule out any severe concerns about ear-popping sounds. Chewing gum, yawning, stretching, steam inhalation, or simple cleansing with an earbud are all possible treatments. However, you should avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) medications for ear infections, especially when pregnant, and avoid poking your ears with a sharp item in general.
- Air Travel.
- Ear barotrauma.
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
Dr. Miguel Angel Razo Osorio(MD)
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