Under normal circumstances, the air pressure inside your ear will equal the atmospheric pressure outside. The Eustachian tube, which is an integral part of your middle ear, makes sure that the air pressure remains equal inside your ears and out by ventilating it in case of a change. This is why your ears pop when you are at a higher altitude or there is an increased amount of atmospheric pressure like at diving depths.
The "pop" is actually the sound of the Eustachian tube opening to let the air in so that the pressure can once again become equalized. Some people, however can complain of a constant popping noise in their ears. There are a few conditions which could lead to this symptom:
A Perforated Ear Drum
The ear drum is responsible for protecting the ears from infection and helping in the ear actually recognize the vibrations which are interpreted as sound by our brain. It is also quite delicate and can get ruptured rather easily by due to the use of various instruments to clean the ear out or physical injury. This rupture results in a chronic popping of the ear, infections dizziness and even a constant ringing noise. Most cases of a perforated ear drum heal on their own and do not require further treatment.
A Blocked Eustachian Tube
This can occur when there are certain congenital defects present which preven the Eustachian tube from functioning properly. The resultant build up of pressure is called as ear barotraumas. There could also be an abnormal growth which prevents the Eustachian tube function. Treatment might include surgical correction if the problem becomes too severe.
Specifically, it is chronic sinus infections or allergies which can cause the ears to pop all too often. Most people get some relief by yawning or swallowing (actions that force open the Eustachian tube) however the treatment of the underlying cause is necessary at this stage. Your doctor will examine the condition and then prescribe nasal decongestants, anti allergic medication and antibiotics if infection has set in.
Fluid Build Up
A collection of fluid inside the ear can happen either due to the presence of infection, a genetic condition or the cause may remain undetected altogether. The distinction between what cam first between the infection and the fluid build-up is also difficult because both can follow each other quite commonly. The treatment however remains much the same and includes the use of anti allergic medication, antibiotics and even surgery in some cases to drain out the fluid.
Most people are worried about a loss of hearing (partial/complete) and while it cannot be completely ruled out, it happens only in small percentage of the people suffering from these conditions. It is important to visit your doctor and have a consultation with an ENT to ensure that you can begin taking the necessary medication as soon as possible. Nothing is to be gained by delaying treatment or self medicating.
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