Clogged Ear

Clogged ears are common and affect people of different ages. However, children suffer most from clogged ears especially when they have a cold. Causes of clogged ears also vary, and so do their symptoms. A common symptom of clogged ears is pain and inability to take a nap accompanied by a headache. You should never ignore clogged ears. Ignorance can lead to infection of the ears causing impaired hearing (worst case scenario). If you have a baby with clogged ears, it is advisable you seek the assistance of a pediatrician. You can also visit a doctor if you do not want to relieve the ear congestion by yourself.

Fortunately, there is medication and home care treatment given to persons suffering from a clogged ear.

Causes of a Clogged Ear

Factors that lead to clogged ears include:

Ear wax buildup happens when a person uses various instruments to clean the ear. The wax is pushed further deeper into the ear causing pain and pressure.

Sinus infection and allergies causes blocking of the ear’s Eustachian tube (passage joining middle ear and back of nose) which results to ear infection.

Diving or swimming water accumulation happens when you swim underwater, there is buildup of fluid in your ear that causes clogging.

Pressure changes when traveling in an airplane can cause some people to experience clogged ears and discomfort because of cabin pressurization. Airplanes get pressurized so that passengers can have oxygen at high altitude.

How to Unclog a Clogged Ear

Warning: The following methods are not to be used if your ear shows any sign of infection. They can be used to unclog ear clogging that is wax-induced. Ear infection can be treated by antibiotics and painkillers, seek medical advice if you suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Sever and persistent pain in your ears lasting more than a couple of hours
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Yellow or green drainage from the ear.

How to Unclog the Outer Ear

Step 1: Prepare Wax-softening Solution

Here, you have an option of either purchasing the wax softening solution or make it. If you are making it, you will need mineral/baby oil, hydrogen peroxide or/and glycerin with warm water. Add few drops of mineral/baby oil and glycerin to the water. Then, add hydrogen peroxide and it should be the same amount as the water.

Step 2: Lie Down on One Side

Lie down in such a way that the clogged ear will be facing up/the ceiling. Lay on a towel so that any spills will be caught.

Step 3: Straighten the Ear Canal

Straightening your ear canal will enable the solution get inside your ear with ease. Grab the ear lobe’s outer edge and gently pull it.

Step 4: Pour the Solution in

You can pour the solution into the ear using a syringe (either plastic or rubber bulb) or directly pour it in from a measuring cup or bowl. When using a syringe, be careful not to insert it deep in the ear and expect spillage if directly pouring it in.

Step 5: Remain lying down for ten to fifteen minutes

Lying down for the said duration enables the solution to break the wax. If peroxide was used, some bubbling will be heard. Once it stops it's time to drain out the solution.

Step 6: Drain the Ear

Take an empty bowl and place it underneath your ear. Position your head such that the ear canal will be inside the bowl. Pull the earlobe so that your ear canal will be straightened.

Step 7: Repeat the Process if Necessary

If after this your ear has still not unclogged, you can repeat the process. Try the process three times and if you still have a clogged ear, it is time to see a doctor.

Step 8: Dry the Ear

As soon as the wax has come out, dry the ear gently so that all excess wax or solution will be wiped out. You can use light, soft pats with paper towels or a cloth. You can also have some drops of alcohol poured into the ear. It will dry it as the alcohol evaporates. Alternatively, take a blow-dryer and using low power and low heat hold it a few inches away from the ear.

Step 9: Seek Medical Help if Necessary

If you have impacted wax and are, therefore, unable to drain it, visit a doctor so that the situation will be evaluated and the best solution given. The ENT (ear, nose & throat) specialist may opt to prescribe some ear drops or have the wax manually removed.

How to Unclog the Middle Ear

  1. Take necessary measures to prevent middle ear clogging. When flying, do not sleep when the plane is descending. Instead, you can chew some gum and yawn frequently. For small children, give them a drink to sip or nurse them when descending. For those diving/scuba diving, have a slow ascending and descending rate. You should also not dive with a respiratory infection or cold. Take some time to get used to new pressure.
  2. Pop the ears. This means that you equalize pressure that is between the outer and middle ear. This may relieve the pain. You can pop the ears by yawning, chewing gum and sucking candy.
  3. Treat a cold. Eustachian tube membranes are similar to the nose membranes. Therefore, they tend to swell severely and fast when there are seasonal allergies or when you are suffering from a cold.
  4. Lay on a warm compress. To ease the pain, have a cloth soaked in hot water over the ear. You can also lie on it.

If the pain persists, you have a fever or are bleeding, visit a doctor.

Other Ways to Unclog a Clogged Ear

  1. Practice breathing exercises. Gently inhaling and exhaling through closed nostrils and mouth is a good exercise to unclog a clogged ear. If an ear infection is present, the exercise should be done slowly and not forced because it may encourage bacteria back into your ear canal.
  2. Taking hot water showers for about 10-15 minutes helps to relieve clogged ears. Steam helps to loosen ear wax causing the clogging.
  3. Try Valsalva’s Maneuver. It opens up the Eustachian tubes and relieves stuffiness & pain. Perform this technique by deeply breathing with mouth closed while blowing your nose gently via pinched nostrils. Ensure that you have consulted a physician before trying out this maneuver.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide is used to treat clogged ears that caused by wax accumulation. Drops of hydrogen peroxide poured into your ears directly can relieve symptoms of clogging.

Things to Avoid for Unclogging Clogged Ear

  1. Avoid removing wax unnecessarily.
  2. Q-tips should only be used for outer ear cleaning only
  3. Avoid using micro-suction and irrigation procedures if you have a perforated or ruptured eardrum as well as ear injuries.
  4. If foreign substances have been accidentally inserted in your ear, never remove the object while at home.
  5. For those who have undergone ear surgeries, do not ignore small signs like clogging and earache.
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