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Clogged Ears: Home Remedies, Causes and Prevention

Clogged Ears pressure relief home remedies. Causes and prevention for blocked and muffled ear wax with natural remedy for people

clogged ears
clogged ears

Clogged ear is a distinctly uncomfortable feeling that most of us have experienced at one or other point of time.  It has troubled us while going up or down a mountain, while descending or ascending in an aircraft and when suffering from a sinus infection. In most cases discomfort goes off on its own, However if it persists here are few simple remedies

Causes of Clogged Ears

  1. Change in altitude results in change in the surrounding pressure. This results in a pressure difference between the pressure in the inner ear and that prevailing outside, leading to clogged ears.
  2. Ear Wax build– up: It is a normal body function to prevent microbes from entering our inner ear, but at times there is an excessive buildup of ear wax which prevents the normal flow of air to the inner ear.
  3. Sinus infections, common cold allergies can all lead to swelling in the middle and inner ear. They can also lead to the closure of auditory nerve (a sort of natural drainage system that connects for ear to the back of the throat thus clears the auditory debris.
  4. Eustachian tube blockage: Eustachian tube connects the inner ear to the throat. It acts as a drainage pipe and dumps the waste behind the throat. In case it gets blocked due to irritation or allergic reaction it leads to clogged ear.
  5. Acoustic Neuroma: It is a benign growth inside the ear cavity and needs professional medical advice often in terms of minor surgery to overcome the problem.

Prevention from Clogging Ears

Use commonly available over the counter ear drops, they will prevent an infection from building up after your ear has been exposed to conditions like a swim in a public place.

Pericoronitis Home Remedy

Pressure relief from clogged ears

clogged ears pressure relief
clogged ears pressure relief
  • Make sure that residual water in your years is drained off, by tilting your head to one side and then to another and letting the gravity to do the needful.
  • While flying yawning and swallowing during ascent and descent activates the muscles that control the Eustachian tube. You can also suck a candy or chew gum.
  • Use Valsalva maneuver when the plane is going up or down. The procedure works by closing your mouth, pinching your nostrils and gently blowing as if you are blowing the nose, repeat the procedure several times especially during the descent. The process will neutralize the pressure difference between the inner ear and the atmosphere.
  • Sleeping is best avoided during takeoff and landing.

Travel plans can be reconsidered if there are following medical conditions such as acute sinusitis, infection, nasal congestion or ear infection.

  1. Over the counter nasal spray is recommended 30 minutes before take- off or landing, avoid overuse as they can increase congestion.
  2. Use decongestant pills cautiously, but not for those who have a heart condition or have blood pressure or are pregnant.
  3. If you have allergies take your medication about an hour before your flight.
  4. Filtered ear plug: Can slowly equalize the air pressure during ascents and descents; however you still have to yawn and swallow during the flight.
  5. If you have severe ear pain or undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy for wounds doctors’ advice is solicited.
  6. For children: Encourage them to swallow or chew gum while flying.
clogged ears home remedy
clogged ears home remedy

Home Remedies for clogged ear

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix one tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and distilled water and pour 4-5 drops in the affected ear, Cover it with a cotton ball and keep the head tilted in the opposite direction for around five minutes.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar contains acetic acid and can heal chronic suppurative otitis media; it also has anti microbial properties that can help with the cold or flu.
  3. Tea tree oil contains antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, put a few drops of it in hot water, bring the infected ear over it , cover the head with the towel and allow the vapors to interact with the body for 10 minutes. Do it a couple of times a day for necessary benefits
  4. Vicks Vapor Rub: Contains Menthol and Eucalyptus oil, It has anti inflammatory and anti microbial properties. Apply the same behind the ear overnight or drop a little of it in the hot water and expose the ear to its vapors for a couple of days
  5. Hydrogen Peroxide: It is often used to soften ear wax. 3% solution of it should be mixed with distilled water and 2-3 drops put in the ear for 3-4 days once daily. It will soften the wax and help its easy removal. Words of caution though “take the advice of your Doctor” and avoid this procedure if you have an ear infection, for Hydrogen peroxide can if used in excess disturb the very sensitive auditory echo system.
  6.  Mineral Oil:  It is as good a remedy as any other to cleanse the ear, pour 2-3 drops of oil in the affected ear twice a day over a period of 3-4 days. It can clear the closed ear lining by dissolving any unwanted residue in the ear canal.
  7. Apply a Warm Compress: Apply it for 10 minutes daily over the affected ear or alternatively use steam from hot water 2-3 times a day. It would help in relieving the pain in the ear caused by hardened wax.
  8. Gargle with salt water: It reduces the infection upper respiratory canal, reducing the blockage in the auditory canal. This allows the excess debris to clear from the ear cavity. This should be done 2-3 times a day for the requisite period.
  9. Humidifier: One of the ways to treat your sinus infection is a humidifier. Sleeping with one in the room can relieve you of the irritation. One thing to note is that sinus, ear canals and nose are all interlinked. Curing one leads to cure of another.
  10. Saline Mist or nasal spray:  pollen dust or bacteria dry out the nasal canal. A good saline mist or nasal spray reverses the negative impact, providing the necessary relief.

What to Avoid during Clogged Ear

The following items namely Caffeine, salt, Alcohol and Tobacco should be avoided, as they can make one feel worse instead of feeling better. 

  • Also avoid cotton swabs or tools that can force your wax to go deeper into the ear.
  • Temperature extremes:  Exercising when it is too hot or drenched in the rain or making a snowman in the winters with kids are the activities best avoided. As the saying goes everything has an age, so if you have problems accept them and learn to live around them.
  • Candling: A procedure to bring cone shaped burning candle to cleanse the ear. This is an awkward procedure and it may lead to burns.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated, Water has immense beneficial properties and it helps the system fight infection better.
  • Keep your nasal passage moist.
  • Remove any water or foreign object that has entered into your ear.

In case of persistent clogged ear a professional advice is required and it may need a surgical procedure.

Frequently Answered Questions about Clogged Ears

Q. How do I unclog my ear?

There are several techniques such as swallowing, yawning, Valsalva maneuver, Tonybee maneuver, applying a warm cloth, Nasal decongestant, nasal cortisteroids and ventilation tubes. When you swallow or yawn your muscles automatically work to open the Eustachian tube. Nasal decongestants by clearing the nasal passage often unblock the middle ear. 

Q. Is it safe to apply Hydrogen Peroxide to the ear?

A. Hydrogen Peroxide is a highly oxidizing agent. It is also a mild antiseptic often used in the house hold for minor cuts and bruises. It is used in the ear to melt the ear wax. However excessive use is best avoided as it could lead to irritation of skin inside the ear which can lead to serious injuries to the auditory organ.

Q. Will anti-histamines help clogged ears?

A. When Sinuses are blocked or irritated Eustachian tubes are often also blocked. Hence a course of new antihistamines like Cetrizine, loratadine and fexofenadine( Allegra) can have beneficial results. They will not only remove the symptoms associated with cold and cough but also give relief to your ear. Also over the counter decongestants as well as nasal spray can also help.

Q. How do I unblock my ear after a cold?

A.  If your ears are still blocked try swallowing, yawning or chewing on gum. If this does not work try blowing your nose gently with your mouth closed and nostrils pinched. This may lead to hearing of popping sound which means that your Eustachian tubes have opened up.

 Q. It has been days, but my ears are still blocked?

Conditions of enlarged organs such as tonsils, adenoids or turbinate can cause the auditory tubes to be blocked.  The above three may require a surgical procedure to rectify the system. Only then the persistent blocking will end. Plugged ear is a common symptom during severe cold and allergic reactions and hence can be cured only after the underlying malady is cured.

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