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Why Do My Ears Pop When I Swallow?

If you’re wondering, “Why do my ears pop when I swallow?” this article is for you. Almost everyone has experienced weird sounds or sensations in their ears, such as buzzing, hissing, etc. Crackles and pops are other unexpected sounds in the ears. In many cases, crackling is like the sound produced when you pour milk over Rice Krispies. But what causes it?

If you suffer from acute otitis media and eustachian tube dysfunction, your ears may pop when you swallow. Earwax buildup and middle ear myoclonus may also be responsible for this. Your medical provider may prescribe ear drops as a solution to this problem. You may need antibiotics if the issue does not resolve after a few days.

Reasons Why Do Your Ears Pop When You Swallow

Crackling sounds in the ears may result from a variety of reasons.

Reason 1: Acute Otitis Media

One of the primary reasons your ears pop when you swallow is acute otitis media, also known as AOM. The onset of an acute otitis media results from an infection of the middle ear. 

Young children are more susceptible to AOM than adults. Several factors can result in acute otitis media, and Eustachian tube dysfunction is one of them. 

Such an infection can develop when fluid accumulates in the middle ear. In acute otitis media, narrowing or obstruction of the eustachian tubes can also cause ear crackling. 

Hearing difficulty and ear pain are common symptoms in adults due to acute otitis media. Most AOM infections are self-resolving without the need to use antibiotics. 

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To treat AOM, your doctor may suggest home treatment and pain medication before prescribing antibiotics. Using home treatment can minimize the side effects and overuse of antibiotics. 

If you have AOM, your physician may prescribe medicine for pain relief, such as ear drops. If your symptoms do not go away after a few days, you may require antibiotics from your doctor.

Reason 2: Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Your ears may pop when you swallow if you have Eustachian tube dysfunction. Eustachian tubes provide a connection between your eardrum and nasopharynx. 

Each ear has one eustachian tube. Eustachian tubes serve various functions, including allowing your middle ear pressure to match your surroundings.

Also, it drains middle ear fluid and prevents infection. However, if the Eustachian tube dysfunction, you may notice crackles and pops sounds in your ear. 

In the majority of cases, the Eustachian tubes stay closed. It will start opening if you’re yawning, chewing, or swallowing.

Your Eustachian tubes can malfunction when they do not open or close correctly. As a result, you may experience a crackle or pop in your ears.

Reason 3: Middle Ear Myoclonus

While middle ear myoclonus, or MEM, is rare, it can cause popping noises in the ears when swallowing. Those with MEM suffer from a highly unique form of tinnitus. 

The stapedius or tensor tympani muscles in your ear spasm cause this. Researchers are not sure what causes MEM. The condition could result from a congenital condition or some injury.

Reason 4: Earwax buildup

The primary purpose of earwax is to keep your ear canal lubricated and free of infection. Usually, it contains fluid secreted by your outer ear glands, located near your ear opening. 

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In most cases, your earwax will naturally fall out from the ear. But it is possible to get stuck inside your ear canal and result in a blockage. 

It may occur if earwax gets further inside the ear using a cotton swab. A buildup can also occur as a result of excess earwax production. As a result, you may experience popping sounds in your ears.

Apart from popping sounds, there are various symptoms of excessive earwax buildup, including ear pain, the feeling of fullness, and itching.


Various ear diseases may cause ear popping during swallowing. In case your ear starts popping, you should consult your doctor immediately. 

It will be necessary to discuss your entire medical history and physical condition with the doctor. The doctor will check the eardrum and outer ear for redness and swelling using an otoscope.

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