How to unclog ears: Top remedies for clogged ears

Do your ears feel clogged? A clogged ear may not necessarily cause you pain or discomfort, but it can muffle your hearing and cause you to strain to hear. It can even cause problems with swallowing as your throat can start to feel blocked too. This can all become a real nuisance. A clogged ear is often temporary and you may find that your ear canal unblocks itself within days or even just a few hours. However, it is possible for you to self-treat with a clogged ear remedy at home. Let’s take a look at some DIY methods for how to unclog ears.

Attempting any of these treatments carries a risk of damage to your ears. If in any doubt, please avoid trying these remedies yourself and contact a qualified medical professional instead.

Causes of clogged ears

Just like you may get a blocked stuffy nose, your ears can become stuffy 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

Clogged ears are common and people of all ages can experience them. Children may get their ear stopped up a little more, particularly when they have a cold.

Remedies for clogged ears

There are several different approaches for how to unclog ears. Some can involve over-the-counter medications, but you can also create a clogged ear remedy from items you will likely already have at home. The method you use to unclog your ears should be determined by whether the problem is in your middle ear, behind the eardrum or in your outer ear canal.

Clogged middle ear

Valsalva maneuver

This clogged ear remedy helps to open your eustachian tubes and is the sensation of your ears popping. However, it’s only generally helpful when there are air pressure changes such as changes of altitude when flying. Note: If you’re wondering how to open a blocked ear from excess fluid in the inner, this remedy will not correct it. Hold your nose and blow out gently as you keep your mouth closed. This will puff out your cheeks. You mustn’t blow your nose too hard as this could damage your eardrum. A preventative measure that helps is chewing gum during take off and landing. You can also try yawning repeatedly to relieve the pressure. 

Oral decongestants and nasal sprays

Over the counter bought oral decongestants and nasal sprays can be particularly helpful when flying or if you have sinus or nasal congestion. 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 a clean eyedropper, put one or two drops into your ear. Then keep your head at an angle for around 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat this 1-2 times a day for five days until it feels that the blockage has cleared.

Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide otic

Put the peroxide into a bowl of warm water. Using an eyedropper, drop one or two drops of the fluid into your ear. You should 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

Wondering how to unblock ears full of wax? Irrigating your ear is a clogged ear remedy that may 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 10 minutes can expand the air in the middle ear space and can force the eustachian tube open. Alternatively, you could 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, while these directions on how to unclog ears are fairly effective, 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, dizziness, hearing loss or tinnitus, contact your doctor as soon as possible. You may need to be prescribed strong ear drops or have wax manually removed.

While your clogged ear may feel uncomfortable, the good news is that it is possible to tackle on your own. While there are several clogged ear remedies you can try, you may need medical intervention or a doctor’s help to help speed up the recovery process or at least give it a kick-start.

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