Middle Ear

Middle Ear Trouble

Nose Breathing

You should use your nose to breathe!

Noses filter, moisten and warm the air that goes into the lungs. Stickiness and hairs in the nose are designed to trap germs, dust and pollen.

If you only use your mouth to breathe; dry, cold, unfiltered air goes straight to your lungs.  Your body then has to work harder to keep your airways clean and the risk of infection is higher.


Noses Effect Ears

Germs, allergens and irritants cause swelling in the nose, this may spread to the eustachian tubes. If they swell shut, your ear may feel blocked, and your middle ear may fill with fluid and/or infection.


Eustachian Tubes

Healthy eustachian tubes (ET) open every time you swallow.  This allows a constant flow of air (equalising) into the middle ear space so that the eardrum and hearing bones can move freely to transfer sound to your hearing centre.

The first sign of ET trouble is muffled hearing and a blocked feeling.  This occurs when the lack of air flow creates a vacuum and your eardrum gets sucked back and cannot move freely.  This condition is called eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD).

If the ETD continues your body may fill the space with fluid.  This condition is called fluid behind your ear drum or OME = otitis media with effusion.

If germs travel up the eustachian tube a middle ear infection may develop.  This condition is called acute middle ear infection or AOM = acute otitis media. In severe cases the infection can leak through the eardrum, and you may notice a discharge from your ear.

If fluid stays in the middle ear for a long time, your body tries to dry it up, it becomes thicker and thicker – this condition is called Glue Ear.


Nose Blowing

Regular nose blowing keeps your airways clear which reduces your chance of developing middle ear trouble.

If fluid or infection is present in the middle ear, frequent nose blowing will reduce the swelling, allowing the eustachian tubes to open. Then the fluid and/or infection can resolve.


Therapeutic Nose Blowing

1. Hold a tissue a few centimetres away from your nose, make sure nostrils say open

2. Breathe in through your mouth

3. Shut your mouth

4. Blow out ‘full and fast’ through your nose 4 times in a row

5. Wipe any mucous


Repeat until the nose is clear of mucous.


Ear Popping

Ear popping is a way to purposefully opening the ETs.  This allows air to flow up into the middle ear.

1. Perform therapeutic nose blowing

2. Stretch your neck up – like a swan

3. Breathe in – shut your mouth

4. Block both your nostrils with your thumb and forefinger

5. Gently but firmly blow air down your nose, keeping it blocked


You should ‘hear and feel’ your ear drums move in and out with the ‘pop’ of air that moves up your ET’s into your middle ear.


6. Now swallow, without holding your nose – this will equalise the pressure


If your ears don’t pop, try stretching you ET’s


7. Stretch your neck by turning your head so your chin is over your one shoulder

8. Use that arm to block your nose

9. Attempt ear popping again

10. Then turn your head to the other shoulder and repeat


If your ears still don’t pop, try increasing the pressure to one ear at a time, with/without neck stretch


11. Block one ear by holding it shut

12. Attempt ear popping again

13. Then block the other ear and repeat


Repeat therapeutic nose blowing and ear popping throughout the day until your ears return to normal


Additional options

  • Nasal Sprays – reduce swelling in the nose
  • Mucolytics – thin mucous so it clears faster
  • Grommets – small plastic tubes that sit in the ear drum, they allow air into the middle ear until the nose and ET’s work well again


Ear trouble? Book an appointment now!