Clogged ears are a nuisance that many people experience. Clogged ears are what happens when something blocks the ear canal and makes it difficult for you to hear. Sometimes, your ears unclog themselves in a few days. If you want to know why your ears get clogged and what you can do for fast relief, Healthline offers three causes and three remedies.
3 causes for clogged ears
- Eustachian tube blockage: The Eustachian tube connects your middle ear to your throat. Normally, mucus travels from your ear to the back of your throat because your ears, nose, and throat are connected. However, sometimes the mucus gets trapped in the middle ear and, as a result, you experience a clogged ear. With this kind of blockage, there is usually some type of infection, too, which can include the common cold, the flu, or a sinus infection.
- Change in altitude: Another possible cause for clogged ears is high altitude. This happens when flying on an airplane, scuba diving, or experiencing a change in air pressure outside the body. A clogged ear is the most common effect of pressure change, and there are other symptoms people experience that can be attributed to altitude sickness.
- Earwax: Earwax protects your ear, cleanses the ear canal, and keeps debris from entering your ear. Earwax is usually a good thing, but sometimes it gets hard and causes a blockage in your ear. This can be caused by using cotton swabs to clean your ears, which actually pushes earwax deeper.
If you have experienced one or more of these things, you know how annoying clogged ears can be.
So how do you safely unclog your ears after they get clogged? Three at-home remedies are the Valsalva maneuver, hydrogen peroxide, and ear drops.
3 remedies to unclog ears
- Valsalva maneuver: The first remedy, better known as popping your ears, involves holding your nose and keeping your lips closed while blowing out forcefully. Your cheeks will puff up and, hopefully, your ears will pop. However, if this method doesn’t work right away, do not continually try to blow out. That can cause problems with your eardrum.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Another solution is combining hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol, with warm water. Make sure your water is not too hot, or it will burn your ear; test the temperature on the back of your hand. Tilt your head to one side so the clogged ear is facing the ceiling, then you can put one or two drops of the solution into your ear using a dropper. Keep your ear tilted for 10 to 15 seconds to remedy the blockage. You might have to do this once or twice a day for a couple of days until it completely clears your ear.
- Ear drops: The final remedy is going to your local pharmacy and purchasing ear drops. If nothing else works, using over-the-counter ear decongestants should help unclog your ears. Depending on the brand, the instructions should be listed on the packaging.
It is important to remember that your ears are a sensitive, delicate part of the body. If you are experiencing prolonged discomfort, you should seek medical attention. Ear, nose, and throat doctors specialize in dealing with clogged ears. Use caution when poking around your ears and trying to unclog them.