How To Unclog Your Ear

Published
How To Unclog Your Ear
Positive young female therapist gestures as she talks with a female client. The therapist smiles warmly as she talks with the young woman.

Many readers are interested in the following topic: How to Unclog Your Ears. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

In cases where you might be experiencing problems in either one or both your ears and which are minor, then here are some few simple natural remedies that can help you easily unclog your ears and get relief quickly, without damaging your ears:

Earwax Removal 101: The Best (and Safest) Ways to Clear Clogged Ears

An adult putting ear drops in a child's ear

Trouble hearing? Or did you push that cotton swab a little too deep this time? A clogged ear from earwax buildup is at best annoying and at worst a prelude to hearing loss.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

But earwax, also known as cerumen, is not only normal, it’s necessary.

“People think that earwax is dirty and needs to be cleaned, but earwax has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties,” says ear, nose and throat specialist Anh Nguyen-Huynh, MD. “It also protects ears from things that could hurt the eardrum, such as dust, hair or small insects.”

Factors that can affect your amount of earwax include previous ear surgery or trauma, recurrent ear infections, or wearing hearing aids or deep earplugs.

How to remove earwax safely

So how can you best handle earwax woes?

“Sometimes, trying to clean them causes more problems than it’s worth,” says Dr. Nguyen-Huynh. “Ears are like self-cleaning ovens. When the outer layer of skin in the ear canal sheds, the wax will fall out with it.”

If earwax is becoming a nuisance, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends several easy ear cleaning methods:

Over-the-counter ear cleaning drops

If you have a small amount of wax, over-the-counter ear cleaners work well. Look for drops that contain hydrogen peroxide or other kinds of peroxide. The peroxide does a good job of breaking up earwax.

Here’s how to use ear cleaning drops:

  1. Lay sideways: Make sure the ear you’re cleaning faces up and add the drops as directed.
  2. Let it sit: Allow the cleaning solution to sit in your ear for around five minutes. This lets the liquid soak in and soften things up.
  3. Grab a tissue: When you sit up, the liquid should come out along with the earwax that broke loose. Have a tissue ready to catch it all.

Ear cleaning drops may not work if you have too much earwax or a condition called impacted cerumen (when there’s a firm wax plug blocking your ear canal).

“When it’s a plug, putting peroxide in your ear may make things worse because you’re softening the plug but not dissolving or removing it,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says. “Then the softened plug becomes like a wall of mud that can plug your ear even more.”

A bulb syringe

If ear cleaning drops don’t work, the ears might need flushing with a bulb syringe, which are available at drug stores or grocery stores. You’ll want to fill the syringe with warm water, place it near your ear opening, and carefully squeeze the bulb. The warm water will flood your ear and break up the wax. Turn your head to the side over a sink or bathtub to let the water (and, ideally, wax) flow out.

However, there are a few caveats:

  • Be gentle: Flush your ear gently to avoid harming your eardrum.
  • Watch the temperature: The water should not be too cold or too hot. If it is either, the temperature difference could make you dizzy.
  • Avoid if necessary: Don’t use the flushing method if you have a hole in your eardrum or if you’ve ever had eardrum surgery. Flushing may damage your eardrum repair.

If you are not comfortable flushing your own ears, says Dr. Nguyen-Huynh, you might want to check with your primary care provider’s office to see if there is a nurse who can do it for you.

Mineral or olive oil

Anecdotally, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says people who put olive oil in an ear before getting a cleaning seem to get wax out more easily. “It lubricates the ear canal,” he explains. “But I’m not sure it’s any better than what we usually recommend, which is mineral oil.”

Earwax removal methods to avoid

All earwax removal hacks are not created equal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends steering clear of these two remedies:

Cotton swabs

A manufacturer’s warning on the package says it all: Do not insert swab into the ear canal. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains: “A cotton swab acts like a ramrod in an old-style cannon. The tip pushes the earwax in deeper, so the more you use it, the more earwax you push in. Plus, you may rupture your eardrum if you push too far. Or if you scratch your ear canal, it can get infected because now dirt and bacteria can penetrate under your skin.”

Earwax removal candles

Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says you should doubly stay away from this method: These candles don’t work, and they may burn you.

Why and when you should clean out earwax

While earwax is generally more annoying than dangerous, sometimes you need a doctor to clear it. Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says it’s smart to seek medical evaluation if home remedies don’t work, your ear hurts or you have trouble hearing.

“Someone needs to look in and see if the ear canal is open or if the wax is plugging it up,” he says.

Symptoms of a clogged ear include:

  • Pain
  • Your hearing becomes muffled
  • A feeling like your ear has something blocking it
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus

If the situation is minor, you may be able to get your ears unblocked right then and there. If not, a doctor can use operating microscopes to magnify inside the ear canal, loosen the wax and vacuum it out.

And a clogged ear may have other causes. “It could be a middle ear infection with fluid filling up the space behind the eardrum,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh cautions. “Or you could have a viral infection that affects the inner ear. In those cases, a doctor can diagnose and treat you to prevent permanent hearing loss.”

But like most things in life, it’s all about balance — too much wax can block your ears and cause temporary hearing loss or infections. “A small number of people will need cleaning if they produce too much wax that jams up the ear, especially if they have a smaller-than-average ear canal,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh explains.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

How to Unclog Your Ears

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission Here’s our process.

How we vet brands and products

Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?

To help unplug your ears, you may want to try “popping them” by plugging your nose and blowing out while keeping your mouth closed. Ear drops, oils, peroxide, or irrigation may also be helpful.

How To Unclog Your Ear

Just like people often have stuffy noses, they can also have stuffy ears for a variety of reasons. Clogged ears can crop up because of:

  • too much earwax in the Eustachian tube
  • water in your ear
  • a change in altitude (you may have noticed problems when you fly)
  • sinus infections
  • middle ear infections
  • allergies

Both children and adults get stuffy ears. Kids may get them a bit more, especially when they have colds.

There are a lot of different ways to tackle the problem of clogged up ears. Some involve medications, but others you can do with things you likely already have at home.

In some specific cases, you may need to check with a doctor about getting a prescription.

Here are some tips for unclogging your ears. First, you need to determine if the problem is the middle ear, behind the eardrum, or the outer ear — specifically the auditory canal, where earwax can build up.

Valsalva maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver is better known as “popping your ears” and helps open the eustachian tubes.

An easy way to do this is to plug your nose and then blow out while keeping your lips closed (it will puff up your cheeks). It’s important not to blow your nose too hard, which could cause problems with your eardrum.

This procedure is only helpful when there are pressure changes, such as changing altitude. It will not correct conditions of excess fluid in the inner ear.

Nasal spray or oral decongestants

Nasal sprays and oral decongestants can be especially useful when flying or if you have nasal or sinus congestion. They’re often more effective as a preventive treatment.

These are available over the counter. Buy nasal sprays here.

Mineral oil

Try dripping mineral, olive, or baby oil into your clogged ear.

Warm two to three tablespoons of your oil of choice, but be careful not to make it too hot. Check it on your hand or wrist to make sure it’s a safe temperature and doesn’t irritate your skin.

Then, use an eyedropper to put one to two drops in your ear. Keep your head tilted for 10 to 15 seconds. Do this a couple of times daily for up to 5 days until the blockage seems to be better.

Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide otic

Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide otic can also be dripped into your ear. Combine the peroxide with warm water in a bowl first. Then, follow the steps to apply it as you would for the oil above.

You’ll likely experience some fizzing — let it do this and keep your head at an angle until it stops.

Over-the-counter ear drops

You can pick up ear drops online or at your local pharmacy. Use as directed on the packaging.

Ear irrigation

Irrigating your ear may help after you’ve made some headway with the blockage. It can be done at home.

When the earwax is softened, irrigation can help flush it out. For more information, read about ear irrigation here. If you’re ready, shop online to get started.

Warm compress or steam

Try placing a warm compress over your ear, or try taking a hot shower. A shower can help get steam into your ear canal. Just make sure to stay in for at least 5 to 10 minutes.

It’s important to remember that the ear is an extremely sensitive part of the body. Most ear, nose, and throat professionals don’t typically instruct patients to clean their ears regularly.

If you do, it’s important to be careful and to use a light touch. Sticking a cotton swab and swirling it around every night may seem like a good way to treat or prevent earwax buildup, but it can cause problems for this delicate part of the body.

When you do clean your ear, make sure that you use a light touch and don’t put your finger in there. When washing the ear, just use a warm, wet cloth on the outside portion.

There are many ways to treat issues of clogged ears at home, but sometimes seeing a medical professional can help speed up the recovery process, or at least more effectively kickstart it.

For example, both sinus infections and middle ear infections benefit greatly from a prescription. When thinking about whether or not to see a doctor, consider your other symptoms.

If you’re experiencing any of the following, contact a physician:

  • hearing loss
  • dizziness
  • ear pain
  • a ringing sound
  • discharge

These things don’t necessarily mean that something is seriously wrong. They may just point your doctor to a specific course of action.

The good news is that a clogged ear, while uncomfortable, is usually pretty easy to handle on your own. Some cases may call for a bit of medical intervention.

A clogged ear can be distracting and annoying, so wanting it to go away as fast as possible is understandable. How long it takes to go away can vary depending on what the root cause is and how quickly you decide to treat it.

Ears that are clogged from water or air pressure may be resolved quickly. Infections and earwax buildup can take up to a week to clear up.

In some circumstances, especially with a sinus infection that you’re having a hard time shaking, it can take longer than a week. Getting effective treatment will help speed up your recovery time.

Clogged Ears (Stopped Up Ear): 7 Instant Ways to Unclog / Fix it

Ranjeet Kumar

Reviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on Mar 1st, 2021 written by Editorial Team

Clogged Ears (Stopped Up Ear): 7 Instant Ways to Unclog/Fix it

Getting your ears clogged with all kinds of things can be very annoying. Many people experience blockage in the ear canal, which if not taken care could also have potential threats to hearing capabilities in individuals.

When you have to deal with such things, then doing it the easy way should be the most sought-after solution. Besides, there are a lot of home remedies to unclog ears.

Clogged Ears : Table of Content

  • Common Factors that Lead to Clogged Ear
  • Eustachian Tube Blockage
  • Symptoms That Are Likely To Show Up
  • Ear Drops to Loosen or Soften Earwax
  • How to Unclog Ears?
  • Natural Remedies for Allergies and Infections
  • Work Your Way

You can purchase the latest hearing aids at a fair price through HearingSol, If you need any assistance or you have a query regarding Clogged Ears or Hearing Loss, feel free to call us at +91-9899437202. We are always here to help you.

It’s not only common among children but adults too, often have their this sensation inside the ear (or both the ears), Some people say my ear closed and making them feel rather irritated.

Common Factors that Lead to Clogged Ear

Your ear canal is like a door of open opportunities to foreign objects and intangible particles that make their way in and cause problems – some of which can be painful, too.

A few factors that commonly cause your ears to become clogged up are:

1. Wax buildup

Generally, earwax is protective in nature. But, when it hardens, the ears become clogged and cause pain, ringing, etc. Too much accumulation of earwax is responsible for the ear clogging. There are various earwax drops & removal kit available in the market which you can use to get rid of it.

How To Unclog Your Ear

2. Dirt Particles

External particles, dirt, and insertion of foreign objects like cotton swab cause the ear to clog. The insertion of these objects damage the inner cells of the ear. And you may suffer from hearing related problems.

3. Air pressure

You may experience ear clogging while scuba diving, climbing mountains or on an airplane. You can also call it Ear Barotrauma or “Airplane ear“. As sometimes Eustachian tube cant equalize the pressure due to change in altitude or pressure. This causes clogging of ears.

4. Sinus problems

A common cold, flu, allergies and various factors responsible for sinus infections block the nasal passage and it leads to Eustachian tube blockage. As a result, you feel as something is clogged in your ear.

5. Ear Infections

Otitis Media, an ear infection occurs when fluid starts to build up in the middle ear and harmful microbes start to grow. This causes the sensation of ears blockage.

6. Acoustic neuroma

Acoustic neuroma is a benign growth of the tumor in the nerves of the inner ear. It grows with the time period. As a result when the tumors grow, then it puts pressure on the nerves in the inner ear. This results in the clogging of the ears, ear pain, etc.

Eustachian Tube Blockage

Eustachian tube blockage

Fluid and mucus flow from the ear to the back of the throat through this tube, where it’s swallowed. But instead of flowing down the throat, fluid and mucus can sometimes become trapped in the middle ear and causes ear clogging.

These common factors can be found in both children and adults. Although some children and adults may often experience blockage in their ears which could be seasonal such as during winter when cold hits you bad.

Other than this, the problem could also occur when you suffer from cold during other seasons of the year.

The above causes can cause ear clogging and you may face various consequences because of the ear clogging. How will you come if there is a clogged ear?

You may come across various signs that will indicate your problem. In extreme cases, you may refer to an audiologist (+91-9899437202).

Symptoms That Are Likely To Show Up

When your ears get clogged, you tend to show certain symptoms that affect you in one way or the other. Some of these common symptoms include:

  • Popping sound in your ear
  • Buzzing, ringing, wheezing and thumping in the ear
  • Itching in the ear
  • Pain in the outer and inner ear
  • The high temperature in the ear
  • Reduced hearing capability
  • Fever

If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms that are mentioned above, you must seek treatment immediately from a professional doctor who specializes in ENT (ear, nose, and throat).

However, there are also some simple methods which you can follow in order to effectively treat the problems that you experience in your ears.

Ear Drops to Loosen or Soften Earwax

The following are some natural solutions people can use to soften the earwax and allow it to exit the ear safely. These are often added to the ear in the form of drops:

  • Mineral oil
  • Baby oil
  • Carbamide peroxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Glycerin

How to Unclog Ears?

In cases where you might be experiencing problems in either one or both your ears and which are minor, then here are some few simple natural remedies that can help you easily unclog your ears and get relief quickly, without damaging your ears:

1. Yawn

Having a blocked ear can sometimes make your hearing unclear. You can decrease the air pressure and pop open your blocked ears by yawning a couple of times until you’re able to hear clearly.

2. Swallowing

Ear clogging is due to the blockage of Eustachian Tube. Swallowing automatically enables the muscles to work and open the eustachian tube.

It connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. Chewing gum and sucking or chewing candy can activates the function of the Eustachian tube properly. This unclogs your ear.

3. Warm Compress

warm compress to unclog ears

Warm compress is one of the natural treatments for unclogging your ears that is commonly associated with cold or sinus congestion as well as getting quick relief from earaches.

The heat from a warm compress will help loosen congestion, unclog the ear and also help in easing the pain. Soak a washcloth in warm water leaving out the excess water and then hold it over the ear for about 15 minutes.

This helps in easy drainage of fluid from the ear canal and relieves you from pain as well.

Alternatively, you can use a hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth and apply it for a few minutes on the blocked ear. The pressure will open up the clogged ear, while also reducing ear pain.

4. Steam

Steam is another natural home remedy that is used for treating various kinds of problems with regards to your body and health.

Also, this is the most suggested method which comes handy especially in cases with fever, respiratory problems and much more.

You simply inhale steam by covering your head with a cloth over a bowl of hot water mixed with a few drops of essential oil (lavender or tea tree oil works). Repeat this method a few times a single day and your ear blockage will open up.

5. Valsalva Manoeuver

Valsalva Maneuver

This is a very helpful technique that can be performed by anyone and works well in clearing the ear canal off of blockage due to ear wax buildup, or when small amounts of water or other fluid gets trapped inside your ears.

This simple method requires you to pinch your nose and blow air out while your mouth is closed. Doing this for a couple of minutes is pretty effective and gives you quick relief.

This technique comes handy in situation when you are traveling and there is a change in either velocity or altitude.

6. Toynbee Manoeuver

In this technique, you have to pinch your nostrils with your fingers while swallowing. It is as effective as Valsalva Manoeuver.

7. Mineral Oil

mineral oil to unclog ears

Mineral oil, olive oil and/or baby oil can be very useful in unclogging your ears. Its use is also very simple. For this method to work effectively, warm a tablespoon of mineral, olive or baby oil of your choice to a certain degree and not making it too hot.

Pour one or two drops of warm oil into your ears and let it stay for about 15 seconds, followed by a proper cleansing with water (preferably warm water).

Continue this method for at least a week in order to unclog your ears effectively from the unwanted build up of ear wax or fluid.

8. Hot Shower

Usually, a hot shower or bath also helps in a number of ways – it clears air passages in people who have respiratory disorders, neutralizes body temperature when downed with fever and is a good solution to clean the inner ear properly, while you bathe.

Splash hot water inside your ear, tilt your head slightly upwards for a few seconds and then gently tilt your head down to drain the water out and clear out the ear wax build up along.

9. Dislodge Trapped Fluid

When your ears become trapped with the liquid, you may suffer from clogged ears. You have to dislodge these fluids in order to unclog ears.

You can remove trapped fluid by inserting the index finger into the ear and moving a finger up and down. This process will work and you will get relief from blocked ears. You can also use a hair dryer with low heat to unclog ears.

10. Over The Counter Ear Drops

Ear-drops can also be purchased from a local pharmacy in your area. The ear-drops help you remove substances that block your ear canal. You may use acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

The ear wax removal system like Debrox Earwax Removal Kit and Murine Earwax removal system. It flushes the earwax and ears become unclogged.

11. Use Decongestant or Medications

Over the counter, tablets and nasal saline sprays can relieve you from sinus congestion. As a result, you will also be ease from ears stopped up.

But you should avoid using nasal sprays for more than 3 days. The more you will use this, the more sprays you will need as you are congested.

Antihistamines play a desirable role in relieving clogged ears by improving sinus infections, running of the nose, and treating allergies. You can use nasal decongestants, nasal corticosteroids.

12. Ear Flushing or Irrigation

Ear flushing

The best method is to flush out the impacted wax, debris out of the ear canal to clear the clogging of the ears. You can use a syringe and put a mixture of warm water and saline for this purpose.

You should put water through the syringe into the ear after 15 -30 minutes of drops. Ear flushing, syringing and irrigations helps to soften the wax and remove it from the canal.

Natural Remedies for Allergies and Infections

If someone experiences a blocked ear due to an allergy or infection, they will also likely experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • A sore throat
  • A fever with infections
  • Gently blowing the nose while pinching the nostrils shut until a popping sound is heard

Work Your Way

The unclogged ear is temporary. But sometimes it becomes hard for the sufferers to get relief from it. If there is still ear blockage after using the remedies, you should immediately rush to your nearby audiologists.

The home remedies mentioned above, as you can see, are safe to implement, especially when dealing with ear blockage. You should treat your blockage as soon as possible. Other it may lead to other hearing difficulties.

For more information regarding issues around hearing, just give us a call on +91-9899437202 or visit HearingSol Clinic in Delhi NCR. We are always glad to help you.