Home Remedies

How To Unblock Clogged Ears Naturally – 8 Effective Home Remedies

Medically reviewed by Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH
by
How To Unblock Clogged Ears Naturally – 8 Effective Home Remedies Hyderabd040-395603080 June 24, 2019

Your ears are one of the most important sensory organs that connect you to the rest of the world. They not only help you respond to various stimuli but also help maintain balance in your body. But, there are times when these little organs can make your life miserable.

Do you remember your last flight trip in which your ears were clogged? Or that severe flu that left your ears blocked for about a week? Clogged ears cause irritation as well as pain and may disrupt your everyday activities. To know more about the common triggers of clogged ears and their natural treatment options, read on!

What Causes A Clogged Ear?

Clogged ears can disrupt the balance, affect one’s hearing, and can also cause pain and discomfort.

Both internal and external factors can trigger the condition. They include:

  • Barotrauma – It occurs when your ears can’t adapt to the changing pressure on an airplane.
  • Ear Infection (Otitis Media) – It is a result of fluid build-up in the ears that may cause virus or bacteria to multiply. A cold or flu often triggers an ear infection.
  • Earwax Impaction – It occurs due to an excessive production of earwax, which causes a build-up of wax in the ear canal.
  • Presence of a foreign object like cotton inside the ear
  • Swimmer’s Ear – This condition results from water being trapped in the ear.
  • Smoking

Some of the lesser common causes of ear congestion are migraines and spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage.

Let’s now look at the signs and symptoms of clogged ears.

Signs And Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms associated with clogged ears include:

  • A sensation of pressure in the ears
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear pain
  • Earache
  • A feeling of fullness in the affected ear
  • Ringing in one or both ears
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Decreased hearing
  • Cough

A clogged ear can indicate fluid build-up in the ear, especially if the person already has a cold or flu. This can increase the risk of developing an ear infection.

Clogged ears can be quite disturbing and may even affect your day-to-day life. However, there are several home remedies that can help in unclogging blocked ears. Let’s take a look at them.

8 Home Remedies To Clean Clogged Ears

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of distilled water
  • A dropper
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and distilled water.
  2. Using a dropper, pour three to four drops of the solution in the affected ear.
  3. Cover the ear using a cotton ball and tilt your head to the opposite side.
  4. Stay in the position for about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the cotton.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can heal chronic suppurative otitis media (1).
It also possesses antimicrobial properties that can help with a cold or flu that may have contributed to your clogged ears (2).

2. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree Essential Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 4-5 drops of tea tree oil
  • Hot water
  • A large bowl
What You Have To Do
  1. Add four to five drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of hot water.
  2. Lean towards the bowl, with the affected ear facing the steam from the water.
  3. Cover your head with a large towel or blanket to prevent the steam from escaping.
  4. Do this for 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory activities of tea tree oil can help reduce inflammation inside the ear, and its antimicrobial properties can fight the infectious microbes that could be clogging your ear (3).

3. Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub Pinit

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You Will Need

Vicks VapoRub (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a little Vicks on your fingertip.
  2. Apply it behind the affected ear.
  3. Leave it on overnight.
  4. Alternatively, you can also put some Vicks in a bowl of hot water and allow its steam to enter your ears.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily.

Why This Works

Vicks VapoRub contains menthol and eucalyptus oil. These possess both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help clear clogged ears caused due to inflammation or infection (4), (5).

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tablespoon of distilled water
  • A dropper
  • Tissues
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a tablespoon each of 3% hydrogen peroxide and distilled water.
  2. Using a dropper, put two to three drops of the solution in the affected ear.
  3. Let the solution sit inside your ear for about 5 minutes.
  4. Blot your ear with a tissue.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily for 4-5 days to clear the earwax build-up.

Why This Works

Hydrogen peroxide is cerumenolytic and can help in softening the earwax, making it easy to remove. Hydrogen peroxide may be as effective as effective as any other ear drops for clearing ears clogged due to earwax build-up (6).

Caution

Consult a doctor before carrying out this procedure. Avoid this procedure if you have an ear infection.

5. Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • Mineral oil (as required)
  • A dropper
  • Tissues
What You Have To Do
  1. Using a dropper, put two to three drops of mineral oil in the affected ear.
  2. Tilt your head and allow the oil to work on your clogged ear for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Blot your ear with a tissue.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this once daily for 2-3 days.

Why This Works

Mineral oil is an excellent option if you are trying to unclog ears that are clogged due to earwax build-up. It is as effective as water-based ear drops in helping to get rid of earwax build-up (7).

6. Warm Compress

Warm Compress Pinit

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You Will Need

A warm compress

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a warm compress below the affected ear for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Alternatively, you can also use the steam from hot water on the affected ear.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times daily.

Why This Works

A warm compress can help reduce the pain caused due to clogged ears (8). The steam from the compress can enter the ear canal and loosen the earwax build-up, making it easier to remove.

7. Gargle Salt Water

Gargle Salt Water Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt
  • 1 glass of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of table salt to a glass of warm water.
  2. Mix well and gargle with the solution.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times daily.

Why This Works

Gargling with water (with/without salt) may help prevent upper respiratory infections (9). It can also help ease symptoms of nasal congestion and clogged ears associated with a cold or flu.

8. Passive Techniques

Passive Techniques Pinit

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If you are in an airplane or traveling to a hill station and your ears are blocked, some passive techniques may help:

  • Yawning – Let out a yawn until you hear a pop in your ears. It will clear the pressure built up inside your ears.
  • Swallowing – Swallowing can also help clear blocked ears in an elevated area.
  • Chewing – Chewing gum can also help.
  • Valsalva maneuver – Take a deep breath and pinch your nose soon after. Exhale from your nose with your mouth closed. This is the Valsalva maneuver that can help in popping blocked ears (10).

All the above remedies are quite effective in treating clogged ears. However, there are also some precautions that you may have to follow to prevent your ears from clogging.

How To Prevent Clogged Ears

  • Avoid cotton swabs or tools to clean your inner ear as it can push the earwax deeper in.
  • Avoid candling. It is a procedure that uses a cone-shaped candle to pull out excess earwax. However, it doesn’t work, and people are quite likely to burn their hands or ears while doing so.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Keep your nasal passage moist.
  • Remove any water or foreign object that may have entered your ears.
  • Remove any excess wax.
  • Blow your nose to get rid of trapped mucus in the ears as well as chest.

These tips can help prevent clogged ears to a great extent. But, if you are at a higher altitude or running a cold/fever, your ears tend to get blocked. Excess wax build-up in the ears is also a common occurrence. Give the remedies discussed here a shot during such instances and see what works best for you.

What do you do to deal with clogged ears? Do you have any remedies you swear by? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

When to see a doctor for clogged ears?

See a doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms:
• Fever
• Pain in the ear, head, or face
• Swelling in the ear, head, or face
• Symptoms that last for a week or keep recurring

What medicines will treat clogged ears?

Over-the-counter painkillers and decongestants like nasal sprays or tablets are often prescribed to help with clogged ears and their symptoms.

Why is my ear clogged after swimming?

If your ears are clogged and infected after swimming, the condition is known as swimmer’s ears. It is caused when water gets trapped in the ears.

What to do when your ear is clogged?

Try out any of the above tips and remedies to get rid of clogged ears. If nothing seems to help, see a doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of any serious underlying medical condition.

References

  1. The management of chronic suppurative otitis media with acid media solution.” The American Journal of Otology, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression” Scientific Reports, US National Library Of Medicine.
  3. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library Of Medicine.
  4. Immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects of Eucalyptus oil and simple inhalation devices.” Alternative Medicine Review, US National Library Of Medicine.
  5. Mechanisms of Antibacterial Action of Three Monoterpenes” Antimicrobial Agents And Chemotherapy, US National Library Of Medicine.
  6. Ear drops for the removal of ear wax.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, US National Library Of Medicine.
  7. Ear wax removal: Help patients help themselves” The Journal of Family Practice, US National Library Of Medicine.
  8. Symptom Relief” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, US National Library Of Medicine.
  10. Eustachian Tube Function in Adults Without Middle Ear Disease” The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology, US National Library Of Medicine.

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