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In my youth, in the late 1950s, I was a US Air Force pilot and flew various planes on a daily basis. The planes didn’t have the same degree of cabin pressurization as today’s commercial jets, and it was necessary to become proficient at ear popping. At that time we pilots always carried a small bottle of nasal spray in a special little pocket on our left shoulder for quick use. The planes we were flying changed altitude and pressure more quickly than today’s passenger airplanes, so sometimes we needed the stuff right now. Some guys sprayed their nose as part of the routine pre-takeoff checklist. I always avoid drugs if possible, and being of an annoying problem-solver type personality, I tried to work out alternatives for popping my ears.

Charles Scamahorn - Probaway

Charles Scamahorn as an obnoxious ear-popping jet pilot.

I was just checking the Internet, including YouTube, and discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that everyone is still promulgating the same old techniques. They work okay most of the time, but what I discovered, way back then, works far better. However, my technique requires a little bit of skill to learn how to do it because it requires you to voluntarily override your natural reflexes. Sort of like not gagging when you put your finger down your throat — not that, but sort of like that. Here is the super popping method I invented fifty years ago:

With your mouth closed, pinch your nose and blow fairly hard. So far that is a normal technique, but now Probaway’s super part — while holding a blowing pressure in your mouth, open from your lungs, press the tip of your tongue firmly upward against the roots of the upper front teeth and then raise the back of the tongue like you are about to swallow. That’s it. It might work better if you actually do swallow.

That super ear-popping technique is a little weird but it works great for me. Try it right now, because it takes a few tries to learn how to do it. Like all of my posts, this is based on my personal experiences, and are therefore experimental and you must proceed at your own risk.

Pop your ears with a pressurized swallow.