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May 14, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Blowing up balloons hurts my face

Today I bought some beeswax, face masks and a package of candy corn from Ace Hardware.  The kind lady behind the counter offered my son a balloon.  Noooooooooooo I thought.  I hate balloons, because blowing them up hurts my face.  Am I the only person who feels this way?  Here is how it happens.  I stretch out the balloon a little bit, because that’s what the balloon guy does when he’s about to make a horsey or a giraffe, so I figure it’s the mark of a professional.  Then I start to inflate the balloon, inflate, inflated.  Yay!  A balloon! 

Fifteen minutes later, the back of my jaws burn like the fire of a thousand suns.  It’s not so much a pain as a irritation.  It feels like the insides of my ears itch.  And this continues for a couple of hours.  I don’t blow up many balloons.  I’m not sure how you can “do it wrong” but I do, every time.  Balloons hurt my face.  When there is a party that calls for a balloon, I go make dip instead.  Leave the latex for someone else.  But today, I decided to give it another shot, and I blew up the red balloon, watching the Ace Hardware logo expand from a tiny black smudge to a four inch graphic.  Maybe this time will be different, I told myself, which is the same thing I tell myself each and every time a balloon finds its way into my life.  And each time, I am wrong.  It is never different.  It always sucks.  It even blows.  Ha. 

The damn balloon only lasted ten minutes.  My daughter tried to eat it (she tries to eat everything…old fossilized broccoli hiding beneath the kitchen table…worms from my worm bin…did I blog about my pet worms yet?)  and it popped.  Then she tried to eat the dangerous rubber pieces.  Fucking balloon.  My son cried because his sister ate his balloon.  Or at least bit it to death.

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31 Comments

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  1. ashley / Feb 15 2017 2:09 pm

    It’s not just me! YAY I’M NOT CRAZY! what a horrid pain. I run when I see a balloon in need on air. I’m sure everyone I have told including my dentist and mother think I am full of it.

  2. Ollie / Apr 30 2012 12:49 am

    Very interesting to read all your comments! I also get a similar sensation of squishing tissue and mild pain around the the angle of my jaw when I puff our my cheeks hard or blow out against a closed mouth. The pain is isolated to an area just the front of my ear and around the level of my lower back teeth (molars). I can get a sensation of cracking (think rice crispies) when massaging the area to get rid of the air.

    I therefore attribute this funny phenomenon to crepitus or surgical emphysema secondary to wisdom tooth extraction when I was younger. Pneumoparotid would give a similar sensation but would be isolated to the upper jaw and beyond. I suspect for most of us the culprit would be previous ENT / dental work. Hope this helps!

  3. Liz / Jan 19 2012 5:37 pm

    Me too!

  4. Taylor / Jan 10 2012 9:25 pm

    try to not poof out your cheeks. I used to have this problem until I started to keep my cheeks un poofed. 🙂 help this helps.

  5. Lee / Jul 17 2011 5:07 pm

    I am 56 and hate blowing up balloons because since I was a little girl I would get pain behind my ear, like mumps (for all you old timers). It hasn’t happened in about 20 years, but tonight my grandson asked me to blow up a little balloon and it happened again. That was two hours and it still really hurts. I am so thankful for the internet so I could look it up and find out I am not the only one out there.

  6. Madeline / Jun 23 2011 7:59 am

    I also get the pain, and it’s just under my ear lobe and sometimes by my ear lobe and my jaw. When I push it, it makes like a crackling sound. It really hurts.

  7. Dan / Apr 7 2011 4:04 am

    Thank god it’s not just me! I get this whenever I blow up balloons, or even blow really hard. It’s a hideous paim that can take days to go away. I’m currently typing this while nursing a very painful cheek/ear area after trying to blow over a cigarette lighter stuck to the desk with Blu Tac (don’t ask!!!) I know it’s going to sting for the next few days now, and I’m really annoyed that I’ve done it again!!! Grrr, still, at least I’m not alone!

  8. Tam / Apr 4 2011 6:29 pm

    It’s quite amusing to me that the first link I clicked on about Pneumoparotid mentions subcutaneous emphysema as one of the clinical signs.
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BUM/is_4_79/ai_62139925/

    Thanks for validating my previous response, mdstudent.

  9. mdstudent / Apr 3 2011 7:41 am

    I hate blowing up balloons because this happens to me every time. This is not caused by doing a Valsalva – that is when you try to exhale against a closed glottis (throat) like someone who is straining on the toilet. Cervicofacial subcutaneous emphysema is something that happens secondary to trauma or another serious medical problem – I really doubt that’s what’s happing – it’s a lot more simple.

    When you blow up a balloon, you are exhaling with an open glottis against a lot of resistance and there are a couple of things that likely to happen, one harmless and one painful:

    1) (harmless) You will hear your ears pop – this happens when the pressure in your pharynx (area behind mouth/nose) gets high enough to force air down the eustachian tube into your middle ear. You will hear a pop, followed by feeling and hearing air flow into your middle ear. This isn’t painful unless you continue to inflate your middle ear enough to cause pain, and it normally doesn’t cause jaw pain. If you go overboard and keep blowing really hard, ignoring the pain, you could rupture your eardrum.

    2) (painful) Pneumoparotid – this is when air is forced backward up the parotid duct into your parotid gland. The parotid glands are a large salivary glands in the back part of your cheeks that lie between the skin and muscle over the angle of the jaw extending back to your ear. The parotid gland makes saliva and has a large duct that empties via an opening in the cheek opposite the upper molars. If you get a flashlight and a mirror you can see the opening of the parotid duct in your cheek. (BTW – this is one of the spots where the dentist sticks a cotton ball when (s)he wants to keep your mouth dry.) When you force air into the duct, it stretches out the tissue and causes a sharp silvery pain (usually in front of the ear) that eventually goes away as the air slowly bleeds back out or is absorbed by the tissue.

    Next time, massaging the back part of your cheeks in a back–>front motion to try to work the air back out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parotid_gland

  10. natt / Dec 30 2010 7:10 pm

    your peobably allergic to latex…wat the balloon is made of. 🙂

  11. Dr. Mommy / Aug 27 2010 9:37 pm

    Hilarious! Our daughter tonight was telling us about this pain in the back of her ears when she puffs out her cheeks. I was like “well, don’t then!” she said it happened when she tried out the French Horn in beginning band…or balloons.

    Google brought me here. Told she’s still ‘ a bit odd, but there are other oddities out there!’ she giggled 😉

    Funny, I always hear noises when I swallow, and have a helluva time in planes and driving up/down hills clearing… so I’m odd too 🙂

  12. cathy vandegrift / Aug 26 2010 10:17 pm

    i had that happen to me as a child as well…..has’nt happened in YEARS and then just the other day after coming in from cutting grass…..there it was that uncomfortable jaw pain!! and it’s been happening about every other day now….out of the blue….i’m not blowing on anything or making funky faces at the kids even, so i’m a lil worried what the crud is going on!

  13. Dom / Aug 21 2010 4:05 pm

    Hey its me again. I know how to blow them up without it hurting now! i read that you can start by blowing up the balloon with a pump then letting all the air out (So its stretched quite a lot) then while holding your cheeks in (So they don’t puff up) blow into the balloons. I’ve just done it! It works! No pain! Apparently now i just ease it off slowly (blowing up the balloon less) till eventually you get back to blowing up balloons normally. Hope this helps

  14. Dom / Aug 21 2010 11:57 am

    Im 13 and i have had the same problem ever since i tried blowing up a small water balloon with my mouth. Now when i blow up balloons i get the same pain under my ear (Like under the bit most girls get pierced). I would really like to blow up a balloon again but it just seems impossible with this pain. So now here i am sat with a balloon scared to try and blow it up incase i get the pain again.

  15. TJ Dunn / Aug 15 2010 5:45 pm

    Probably whats causing this is puffing out cheeks. When you do that all the air pressure in the balloon creates the same amount of pressure in your mouth letting your cheeks puff out allows that pressure to stretch the muscles in your cheek further than they should go. Not letting your cheeks puff like that should fix most problems, but it still might wear out your cheeks a bit, but this would just be from muscle fatigue instead of them being pulled apart.

  16. Tam / May 27 2010 2:33 am

    I did a little more searching and thought you guys might be interested. It looks like the basic problem is called “cervicofacial subcutaneous emphysema” – air getting into spaces it’s not supposed to be in, around the face. The crackling is called crepitus.

    Blowing up a balloon causes the same situation as if you closed your nose and mouse and tried to breath out, that’s called Valsalva’s maneuver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valsalva_maneuver).

    That normally causes back pressure to the eustachian tubes, but apparently in us it’s also causing the air to back up somewhere else. That crackling sound is indicative of air under the skin.

    Anywho, I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out as a kid, and my molars removed as a teen, and apparently dental and/or sinus surgeries can leave pathways open that normally aren’t.

    • maleesha / Jun 2 2010 7:27 am

      THANK YOU I cannot believe you found this out. I am amazed there is a name for it. Let’s call it “CSE” and hope for a pharm commercial promising to cure it. Ok, it’s NOT that bad, and one can just avoid balloons. I never had my tonsils or ‘noids out…and didn’t lose the wisdom teeth until my 20’s so it’s possible I just have random holes in my head. This would explain so much.

  17. Tam / May 27 2010 2:01 am

    I have the same problem. Strangely enough I haven’t *always* had this problem, only after puberty! It started happening around 16 or 17, I blew up tons of balloons before that without having this problem but now I can’t do it at all.

    I get the crackly sounds if I push on the spot behind my jaw after doing it too… The last time I’m pretty sure I came very close to popping my ear drum.

    My ears are messed up anyway. They’ve been popping constantly since puberty lol

  18. ChemistryPirate / Mar 22 2010 8:45 am

    I also have the same jaw pain issue. It hurts and burns right inside my ear along the jawline for several hours, and I get the squishiness when I touch the area. I told my parents about it as a kid and their remedy was “don’t blow up balloons.” Playing a brass instrument the wrong way also produces the same pain. Good thing I was a flute player.

  19. Holly / Feb 15 2010 2:11 pm

    Ohh my god! I thought I was the only one!! It’s not even that it hurts as such but burn/annoys/stings/ tingles.. It’s horrible. I thought I was allergic to ballon latex for a while but I thought if I went to the doctors they’d say I was just wiered haha. I think were just not ment for bollowing up ballons 🙂 lol

  20. My JAWWWW!! / Sep 3 2009 10:44 am

    I did the same thing, and my jaw hurts like hell. I tried chewing on something and after like 2 chews the pain was magnified 30x. It’s happened before, but usually goes away after like 10 minutes. It’s been going strong for 2 hours now, and I can’t eat a thing.

  21. maleesha / Jul 27 2009 9:26 pm

    I am so glad you posted Danielle! I am glad I am not the only one with Mystery Balloon Pain (MBP…ask your doctor if Jawzifil is right for you!) Weird that some people are more prone to this than others, but maybe we should form a support group or something?

  22. Danielle / Jul 27 2009 11:39 am

    Oddly, I am in the boat with people with pain. I’m 22 and I have always hurt like heck after blowing up a balloon. Today is my husbands birthday, I tried blowing up one to throw on the table by his card…and I regret blowing that balloon now. It sounded like my ear/head popped and now there is some serious pain behind my jaw just below my earlobe. I officially will never blow balloon again myself, w/o a pump…I agree with the other nurse saying air in the estachian tube, I hope i just didnt’ over do it…*sigh* Careful others with balloon blowing ear/jaw pain…they aren’t worth it.

  23. i know how u feel!! / Jul 25 2009 9:34 pm

    This happens to me too when blowing up balloons…your page made me LOL. i was once accused of trying laziness when trying to get out of doing such a task and i tried to explain “no, it really does hurt!!!” thats when a nurse told me it is the eustation tube (associated with the ear) filling with air (no the balloon thing isnt normal but happens to a few of us). but yeah i too found this pg while (i typed “pain when bowing up balloons”) trying to prove a someone that i didnt make this up! i have found a way to blow up a balloon IF I HAVE TO without the painful air phenom, it is SLOW but u have to prevent your cheeks from blowing up and just push the air in your mouth out without actually blowing with your cheeks.

  24. OneInTheSame / Jun 13 2009 12:18 pm

    A quick google search regarding “back of jaw hurts when blowing up a balloon” came back with this page. I never thought to attribute the pain I experience to be an Ear pain, but now that I think about it more, it could be I suppose.

    Anyway, I first experienced this pain blowing up a balloon in 3rd grade (I remember this because I talked to our family doctor on the phone and for some reason 3rd Grade just seems right).

    Still to this day (i’m 24) I get this pain when I blow up balloons. I too am a Dip person. You are not alone!

    off to find out more information. FYI, now that I am tough enough to explore the pain, I notice than when I push on the area of pain, I hear a squishy sound. I will press this area later today to see if it’s still squishy 🙂 MMM experiments, brings me back.

    Cheers (oww my jaw/ear)

  25. bluesuit12 / May 21 2009 6:01 pm

    They don’t hurt my face to blow up but the taste of them makes me gag.

  26. shmode / May 15 2009 7:14 am

    I hate balloons too, but not for irritation of allergy, but they almost always end up exploding in my face and that stinkin’ hurts I tell ya!

  27. smalltownsmalltimes / May 15 2009 6:39 am

    That is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard (the blowing thing not the eating thing). I hate balloons too – my kids bat them around the house, knocking things off tables in the process. I scream, they fight, someone cries. Fucking balloons indeed.

  28. Shawn / May 15 2009 3:26 am

    I think you just need more practice…You should go to the store and buy one of those 1000 pack balloon bags and blow them all up, that’ll cure you!

  29. maleesha / May 14 2009 8:31 pm

    well frick, now you tell me.

  30. morethananelectrician / May 14 2009 8:26 pm

    They make little pumps for balloons…they are cheap…like $1.00.

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