How to Open a Blocked Ear: Top Remedies for Clogged Ears

Do your ears feel clogged? Wondering how to open a blocked ear? A clogged ear may not necessarily cause you pain or discomfort, but it can muffle your hearing and cause you to strain to hear. This can quickly become a real nuisance. A clogged ear is often temporary and you may find that your ear unblocks itself within days or a few hours. However, it is possible to self-treat a clogged ear at home.
Attempting any of these DIY treatments carries a risk of damage to your ears. If in doubt, please contact a qualified medical professional for advice.

Causes of clogged ears

Just like you may get a stuffy nose, your ears can become blocked for several reasons. Clogged ears can occur as a result of:

  • A build-up of earwax
  • Water in the ear
  • Sinus infections
  • Change of altitude
  • Middle ear infections
  • Allergies

People of all ages can get clogged ears. Children get them more often, particularly when they have a cold, which usually results in tantrums. These are the times parents are most grateful to know how to open a blocked ear.

Remedies for clogged ears

So,  how to open a blocked ear? There are several different ear remedies for clogged ears to try at home. Some blocked ear remedies involve over-the-counter medications and products, but you can also use items you likely already have at home. But in order for it to work, the method you use should be determined by whether the problem is in your middle ear, behind the eardrum, or in your outer ear.

Clogged middle ear

Valsalva maneuver

This clogged ear remedy helps to open your eustachian tubes and is the same sensation you experience when your ears pop. However, it’s only helpful when there are pressure changes, such as changes of altitude when flying. It won’t correct any excess fluid that might be in the inner ear. Hold your nose and blow out gently as you keep your mouth closed. This will puff out your cheeks, but you mustn’t blow your nose too hard as this could damage your eardrum.

Oral decongestants and nasal sprays

Over the counter oral decongestants and nasal sprays can be particularly helpful when flying or if you have sinus or nasal congestion and need to drain your ear and nose. They are often more effective as a preventative treatment.

Clogged outer ear

Mineral oil

Warm two or three tablespoons of mineral, olive or baby oil. Check the temperature on your wrist or the back of your hand to make sure it’s not too hot for your skin. Using an eyedropper, put one or two drops into your ear and keep your head at an angle for around 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat this 1-2 times a day for five days until the blockage has cleared.

Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide otic

Put peroxide into a bowl of warm water. Using an eyedropper, drop one or two drops into your ear. Keep your head at an angle for around 15 seconds afterward. You will likely notice some fizzing, but keep your head at an angle until the fizzing stops.

Ear irrigation

Irrigating your ear is a remedy that will help once you’ve already started to clear the blockage. Once the earwax has softened, use irrigation to flush it out.

Warm compress or steam

Letting steam into your ear by taking a hot shower for five to ten minutes can expand the air in the middle ear space and force the eustachian tube open. Alternatively, try putting a warm compress over your ear.

Take care

A clogged ear is generally only a temporary problem and many people can treat it themselves using a clogged ear remedy at home. However, it’s important to remember that your ear is a very sensitive part of your body and you must never try to dig out earwax. If your ear remains clogged despite using different remedies or if you experience pain, hearing loss or tinnitus, contact your doctor as soon as possible. You may need to be prescribed ear drops or have wax manually removed.


While your clogged ear may feel uncomfortable, the good news is that it’s possible to tackle on your own. While there are several clogged ear remedies you can try, you may need medical intervention if they aren’t successful.

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