Yawning, swallowing and chewing gum are all ways to clear obstructions in the eustachian tubes that affect the ears. These movements apply pressure to the eustachian tubes, and in many cases, they cause the obstruction to move out of the way, notes Mayo Clinic.
The eustachian tubes run between the middle of the ear and the back of the nose, and under normal circumstances, they allow the free flow of air, maintaining a sense of balance in the head. When one or both of these tubes becomes blocked, one can experience a sensation of pressure or fullness in the ear. More unpleasant symptoms include muffled hearing, dizziness and pain in the ear, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Colds can cause swelling that leads to this type of blockage, as can changes in air pressure that one experiences while taking off or landing in an airplane.
If swallowing, chewing gum and yawning do not work, the next step is inhaling deeply, pinching the nostrils shut, closing the mouth and trying to blow out through the nose. In most cases, the obstruction feels like it is shifting and often moves out of the way, accompanied by a popping sound. Other options include decongestants and topical nasal steroids, and in severe cases, a doctor implants ventilation tubes to ease pressure and remove fluid, according to Mayo Clinic.