A clogged ear can range from mildly inconvenient to extremely painful, depending on the cause and severity. You’ve probably experienced it before as part of the symptoms that come with cold or flu or as a result of ear wax build up. A clogged ear can affect anyone but it’s most common among children – resulting in anxiety for both child and parent.
There’s no need to suffer on, however. I’ve compiled this list to show you how to unclog your ears the easy way. Most of these methods use ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboard, so you can get relief right away.
What Causes Clogged Ears?
To understand exactly what’s happening when you experience a clogged ear, let me explain the ear’s structure. Your ears are connected to the throat and nose by the “eustachian tubes”. The job of these tubes is to equalise pressure in the middle ear with external air pressure. (source)
When the eustachian tubes get blocked, it leads to the symptoms of a clogged ear. Reasons for a clogged ears include infection, blocked nose, changes in air pressure (e.g. travelling on a plane), earwax accumulation, allergies and water inside the ear. (source)
Symptoms of Clogged Ears
Symptoms of a clogged ear vary in severity, depending on the cause. You may experience: difficulty hearing, earache, a popping sensation or ringing in the ears, itchiness in the ear, dizziness or discharge from the ear. (source)
These symptoms usually last from a few hours to a few weeks. In most cases it will go away without treatment. (source)
How to Unclog Your Ears
1. Try to “Pop” Your Ears
This is the quickest and most simple method to unclog your ears so give this a go first. There are numerous ways to achieve the “pop”. Yawning, swallowing or chewing gum can help, or there’s a technique called the “valsalva maneuver” as demonstrated in this video:
2. Remove Ear Wax
If you think your ears are clogged from buildup of wax, you can use a variety of different methods to soften and remove it.
Try lying on your side with the affected ear facing upwards and apply a few drops of warm olive oil or a 50/50 mixture of alcohol and apple cider vinegar into the ear. Leave it to sit for about 10 minutes and then tilt your head to let the earwax drip out.
Alternatively, adding 2 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the ear can dissolve ear wax. Leave it for 2 minutes, until you notice a fizzing sound and then let the liquid drip out. Be careful not to use this method too often or at a higher strength as it can be damaging. You can also buy drops at the pharmacy specifically for dissolving ear wax. (source)
3. Introduce Moisture
Since your ears, nose and throat are all connected, it’s not surprising that introducing water to that system can help loosen blocked ears. Again, there are a few methods which give the same results, as follows.
You can inhale steam from hot water in a large bowl by covering your head and the bowl with a towel. Adding a couple of drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil will add antiseptic effects. A hot shower or humidifier will also work. (source)
If your clogged ears are as a result of a cold, flu or allergies, rinsing the nose with a saline spray is particularly effective. You can buy this at any pharmacy – it may also be called “sea salt spray”.
4. Use a Warm Cloth
This simple technique can provide relief to the symptoms of a clogged ear quickly. The heat from the cloth eases the pain while also softening the ear wax. Heat the cloth either in the microwave, with an iron or by soaking it in hot water and squeezing out the excess.
Next, lie on your side and put the damp cloth on your ear for ten minutes. Remove the cloth and press your palm tightly onto your ear and pull it off. This acts like a suction cup, unclogging your ear. (source)
5. Over-the-Counter Products
If you don’t have any luck with the above at-home techniques, take a trip to your local pharmacy and pick up some medicated tablets or ear drops. The exact product will vary depending on the cause of the clogging – the staff will be able to recommend one that’s right for you.
6. See a Doctor
When all else fails, you’ll need to see a doctor. In fact, there are a few circumstances in which you shouldn’t even attempt to unclog your ear at home. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately:
– Severe ear pain lasting more than a few hours.
– Vomiting or diarrhea.
– Yellow or green discharge or bleeding from the ear. (source)
I hope you found the above steps helpful. Since most of them are non-medicated, they’re suitable for the whole family. Always try to your clogged ears as soon as you notice symptoms starting to develop, as this can nip it in the bud and prevent it from getting worse.
Let me know how you get on in the comments, and if you have any other suggestions for how to unclog your ears the easy way, I’d love to hear them too.