Having plugged ears is very discomforting as it can affect your hearing capability and make you feel miserable. Though it can affect people of all ages, it is very common in children. It occurs due to a blockage in the ear canal. The reasons for the blockage can be a buildup of ear wax, sinus infection, water accumulation in the ear canal and allergies.
If you have severe ear ache, bleeding or discharge from the ears, then consult a doctor immediately. If you have plugged ears due to other factors then you try some simple home remedies.
Home Remedies for Plugged Ears:
Initially, it is good to know the cause of the problem first to follow the appropriate remedy. We have mentioned various remedies as per the root cause of the problem. Choose a remedy accordingly and try it regularly.
Remedies for Plugged Ear Caused due to Sinus or any other infection:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
Apple cider vinegar is an effective treatment as it helps to drain out the mucous from the body. It also has anti-bacterial properties which help to cure the infection causing plugged ears.
- Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
- Pour into a dropper or bulb syringe.
- Lie down on by keeping the plugged ear upwards and push solution into it.
- Hold a cotton pad to the ear and turn the ear face downwards.
- Remain in the same position for few minutes. This process helps to drain out the fluid.
- Repeat as needed to get relief.
- Alternatively, normal vinegar can also be used.
2. Nasal Saline Spray
A nasal saline spray acts as a mild decongestant which helps to unblock the clogged nose and plugged ears.
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil and remove from the flame.
- Allow it to cool down to room temperature and pour into a sterilized container.
- Add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of non – iodized salt (like kosher salt) and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Mix well and pour into a bulb syringe, dropper or squeeze bottle.
- Tilt your head at 45˚ and place the tip of the bottle or dropper into your nostril and push this saline solution gently into your nostrils.
- Let the solution drain through the nose or mouth and spit it out.
- Blow your nose before repeating on the other nostril.
- Repeat 2-3 times a day, but do not store the solution for more than 2 days.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic which contains strong anti-bacterial property that helps to clear any infection in the ear.
Process 1: Garlic Oil
Regular use of garlic oil not only helps to prevent infection, but also provides relief from the blocked ears.
- Peel the skin of 2-3 garlic cloves and crush them.
- Add it to 1 tablespoon oil of your choice and heat the mixture for few minutes.
- Remove from the flame and allow it to cool down.
- Lie on your side and pour into the blocked ear.
- Use the cotton pad to hold the oil in for two minutes.
- Now allow the fluid to drain out of the ear.
- Repeat regularly.
Process 2: Garlic and Salt Compress
Salt absorbs the water or fluid present in the ear. Apart from that, it also fights with the infection.
- Peel the skin of 4 – 7 garlic cloves, add them to 1 glass of water.
- Heat the mixture for 10 – 15 minutes and strain the cloves.
- Crush the cloves to make a paste.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir it well.
- Apply paste on a thin piece of cloth and wrap it.
- Hold this compress against the infected ear for few minutes.
- Repeat the process 2 – 3 times a day.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which help to cure infection in the ears. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which makes it the best remedy to cure sinus infection or any other respiratory infections.
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a glass of boiling water and stir well.
- Tilt your head over the glass and allow the steam to enter your ear.
- This process will provide instant relief.
Process 2: With Olive Oil
- Dilute few drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of warm olive oil.
- Stir it well and then use a dropper to insert the mixture into the ear.
- It will make the trapped mucus drain out of the Eustachian tubes as well as help to de-congest the sinus.
Gargling helps to drain out the impurities in your mouth, clear the sinus, cold, cough and other infections causing clogged ears.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water.
- Pour a small cup of this solution into your mouth and gargle for about 20 – 45 seconds.
- Then spit it out without swallowing.
- Repeat this process twice a day.
Home Remedies for Plugged Ear due to Pressure:
Sometimes, unequal distribution of pressure from the inside and outside environment of the eardrum will result in blocked ears. Follow these below listed remedies to unblock your ears and equalize the pressure.
6. Valsalva Maneuver
Valsalva maneuver is defined as the process of action where a person tries to exhale with their nostrils by closing the mouth. This will increase the pressure in the middle ear and chest.
- Close the mouth and pinch your nose.
- Now try to blow through nose till you hear a ‘pop’ sound in your ear.
- After doing this process, you are free to open the nose and mouth.
- Remember don’t blow too hard as this can damage the ear.
7. Jaw Wriggle
This is one of the simplest methods that helps to unblock the ears very effectively. You can do the process instantly at any time and place.
- Open your mouth widely.
- Wriggle your jaws by moving the opened mouth from side to side in quick and regular motion.
- Continue until your ears pop.
Otovent is another easy way to equalize the pressure, in which you inflate a small balloon through your nose to pop your ears.
- Take a balloon and place firmly against the right nostril.
- Hold the left nostril closed and then inhale deeply through your mouth.
- Close your mouth and blow air through your right nostril to inflate the balloon.
- Repeat the same process by placing the balloon on the left nostril
- Repeat the process regularly.
9. Toynbee Maneuver
In this process, you will swallow the water when your mouth and nose are closed.
- Sip some water. Pinch your nose and close your mouth.
- Swallow the water while keeping your nose pinched.
- This process helps to equalize the pressure in your ears and unplug them.
- Repeat this process as needed.
10. Hop on One Foot
This process takes advantage of gravitational force by gently hopping on one foot. This method is effective if the water is trapped in the middle ear after swimming.
Process – 1:
- Stand on one foot and tilt the head to the side which is blocked.
- Hop on one foot with your head tilted downwards.
- Stay in this position until you get relief.
Process – 2:
- Lie on your side with a pillow below the blocked ear.
- Stay in that position for 15 – 30 minutes.
- This process will drain out any fluid that has built the pressure in your ear.
- Repeat the process as necessary.
Home Remedies for Plugged Ears due to Ear Wax:
We don’t need to clear the ear wax frequently as it can will removed automatically by our body. But with use of Q-tips, pins or ear plugs, the ear wax is pushed near to ear canal. It becomes difficult for the earwax to fall off leading to clogged ears. Here are few ways to remove the accumulated earwax.
11. Olive Oil
Wax impaction refers to condition where the accumulated earwax hardens and stays in the ear canal. Oil is helpful in softening the wax and make it fall out easily.
- Pour warm olive oil into a dropper.
- Pour 3 – 4 drops of the olive oil into your clogged ear before you sleep.
- Sleep in such a way that the clogged ear faces upwards.
- Repeat the process for 3 nights in a row.
- On the 4thnight, replace the olive oil with warm water to clean the ear.
- Using a dropper, pour few drops of warm water into the ear canal. This helps the ear wax to fall off.
- Warm up some olive oil in a pan for few minutes.
- Allow it to cool down until it is warm enough.
- Use a dropper and pour few drops into the clogged ear.
- Let it sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Use ear buds to remove the soften wax gently.
- Note: Baby oil or mineral oil can also be used.
Note: Avoid using olive oil or any other oil for removing wax if you have perforated ear drum.
12. Hot or Warm Compress
Applying heat is the best way to soften the wax and it will also loosen up the congestion if you have a cold. But make to avoid placing too hot compress as it can hurt the ear.
- Iron a clean cloth.
- Hold against the blocked ear for few minutes until the cloth cools down.
- Repeat this process for about 10 – 15 minutes
- Repeat regularly.
- Soak a clean cloth in hot water.
- Squeeze to remove excess water and hold the cloth against the clogged ear.
- Let it sit for about 5 – 8 minutes and use your palm to rub the ear.
- Alternatively, you can wrap a hot water bottle in a thin towel and place it on the clogged ear for about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Repeat regularly.
- Fill an ear syringe with warm water.
- Tilt your head with the plugged ear upwards.
- Pull the ear lobe down to open the ear canal and gently pour the water into the ear to dislodge the earwax.
- Let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes and tilt the head to the opposite side to let the water and earwax come out easily.
- Repeat the process regularly.
Inhaling steam can help to remove clogged ears, as it will loosen up the mucus causing plugged ears.
- Pour hot water into a bowl.
- Add few drops of any essential oil like lavender, peppermint or tea tree oil and stir well.
- Place your face just above solution and cover your head with a towel.
- Inhale the steam slowly and continuously until your clogged ear opens up.
14. Homemade Ear Wax Solution
- Add few drops of mineral oil or glycerin into 1/4 – 1/2 cup of warm water.
- Lie down on your side with the clogged ear facing upwards.
- Pour this solution into the ear using a utensil of your choice.
- Stay in this position for about 10 minutes.
- Then tilt your head on the other side to drain out the solution from the ear.
- Gently pull the ear lobe down to completely drain out the solution.
- Do not repeat more than 3 times in a day.
- Avoid trying this process if you have plugged ears due to an infection.
- If you have symptoms such as yellow or green discharge, feeling feverish or pains, then consult a doctor.
15. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another effective remedy to clear the earwax easily. However, make sure to avoid using this process more frequently.
- Pour 2 – 4 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a dropper.
- Drop into affected ear. You will hear a fizzing sound within few minutes, this happens because of the dissolving wax.
- Let it sit for about 10 minutes or more until the fizzing sound stops.
- Now tilt the head to the opposite direction and allow the solution and earwax to drain out.
- Use a wash cloth to clean the ear once the ear wax comes out.
- Follow this 2 – 3 times if needed.
Tips to prevent the Plugged Ear:
- Avoid placing extreme temperatures on the ear.
- A warm shower for 15 minutes can provide relief from blocked ears.
- Scuba diving or diving needs to be done slowly so the ears get used to the pressure. Do not do it if you are suffering from respiratory infections like asthma, cold, bronchitis, sinus, etc.
- Consumption of foods like garlic, onions, radish, jalapeno, pepper, chilies, etc. helps to provide relief from congestion.
- Warm soups soften the mucus to prevent the clogged ear. You can also have broths, tea or coffee, etc.
- Inhaling and exhaling gently through closed mouth and nostrils will help you unplug the ears.
- Yawning also helps to unblock the ears if it is caused due to pressure.
- When flying, suck a sweet or chew a chewing gum. Chewing gum opens up the Eustachian tubes and relieves the excess pressure in the ears and opens up the clogged ears.
- Never use waterpik or any other mechanized water jet on the ear.
- Never scratch your ear drum with a finger nail to unclog it, as it will damage the ear drum.
- Make sure to consult your doctor (ENT) if there is a foreign object in the ear while removing the wax.
Did you find this article helpful? Do you have any other method that works better than the mentioned above. Share your experience, suggestions and queries in the comments section below.