Clogged Ears (Ear Congestion) – How To Unclog With Home Remedies


Clogged ears? Well, an individual suffers from this ailment at least once in his or her lifetime. Though adults are not commonly affected, it is the children, who face the heat when they are affected with colds. There are many causes for colds, and they vary according to the health of a person and the circumstance. There are persons who become perturbed when they face discomfort and start worrying about their hearing ability.

When the ear canal is blocked, you face a blocked ear – The Eustachian tubes – present between the back of the nose and middle of the ears face hurdles in the movement of air. However, the good news is that there are some best home remedies for clogged ears. Before we list them to you, let us take a quick look at its causes and symptoms.

Did You Know?
Earwax is not toxic. Earwax is the result of dust and debris caught in the ear. There are persons who harm themselves by using earbuds and pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal. The result is severe pain.

Causes of Clogged Ears (Ear Congestion)

Have you ever wondered what causes blocked, plugged or congested ears? Well, it is when the Eustachian tubes (that are in-between the middle of ears and the back of the nose) become obstructed. The tubes lose the ability to open & close properly in regulation and equalization of ear pressure. Usually, some pressure is built in the middle ear and the external atmosphere of the ear.

Symptoms of Clogged Ears

  • Dizziness – the causes may be due to allergies, cold or sinus problem
  • Low hearing capability
  • You can feel the wind rushing in your ear
  • You can also feel mucus or other liquid moving around in the ear
  • Some may face severe pain/ some will face discomfort/ some will feel no pain
  • You can face other symptoms such as a headache
  • Lack of sleep
  • Irritation or itching in the ear

In rare cases, bleeding or discharge will come from the affected ears.

Caution: The symptoms should never be ignored, as they may lead to hearing loss.

Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged?

Now let us look into the reasons why your ears might be clogged.

You may get one when you fly in an airplane or because of a common cold. It will be cleared in the due passage of time. If the ear is subjected to sudden changes from the environment, it can lead to this ailment. The tube, in coordination with the eardrum, can regulate the air pressure flowing amidst the middle ear and outer ear. This condition might not happen only on board an airplane, but also when you drive a steep mountain cliff or during scuba diving.

In the case of cold or hearing difficulty, the causes can be a wax buildup. If the symptoms persist for more than two days along with pain, have a consultation with the doctor.

Trapped Fluid

natural remedies for blocked earsThe ears have a cleaning system in place to clear the wax. However, as in all cases, a portion of the population might produce excess earwax.

In case you find the same, go to a specialist, as they will have the right amount of tools to remove the wax. Any self-treatment can prove harmful to the internal organs of the ear are very delicate.

The excess debris is transferred to the throat by Eustachian tubes, and the ears are kept clean. However, when the tube is blocked due to various reasons, such as adenoids, blocked nose, sinus congestion, enlarged tonsils or congestion because of allergies or cold, the fluid may be trapped. Children can suffer more due to their small Eustachian tubes. Children, and in some cases, individuals, if not given proper treatment, after 48 hours, can suffer from severe pain, hearing loss, loss of balance or dizziness.

Some of the other common triggers of clogged or plugged ears are:

  • Allergy
  • Accumulation of water within the ear (due to swimming, known as Swimmer’s ear)

Swimming in contaminated waters can result in the build-up of harmful bacteria and inflammation of ear canal. This can also lead to ear congestion. This is known as swimmer’s ear or otitis externa.

How to unclog ears with home remedies

Here are some simple ways to get rid of the blocked earwax:

10. Sesame Oil

home remedies for clogged ears

According to Ayurveda, using sesame oil can do great wonders to clogged or plugged ears. It is well known to reduce ear pressure and lower inflammation. So, here are clear instructions to help you treat your congested ears:

  • Step 1: When you are using sesame oil, you need to slightly heat them first.
  • Step 2: Once it is lukewarm, pour two drops of it into your ear.
  • Step 3: Insert both your index fingers into the ears and breathe through the mouth.
  • Step 4: Store some air in the mouth. Gargle along with air for 2 to 3 minutes. This action helps the cheeks to bulge & contract.

Note: Do not heat or overheat the oil. Excess heating makes all its essential nutrients evaporate. You are only supposed to warm it.

How Does This Work to Unclog Ears?

Sesamum indicum or sesame seeds are tiny gems, which pack a powerful punch. It constitutes oleic acid (monounsaturated), linoleic acid (polyunsaturated), and palmitic acid (saturated fat. Sesame seed is rich various nutrients like calcium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium and thiamine. Also, they contain a good proportion of dietary fiber; thus, supporting a strong colon.

Did you know that lack of vitamin K leads to cupped ears and under-developed ears in newborns? This is what this research paper clearly says. In fact, it is quite shocking to know that most chronic disorders are due to vitamin K deficiencies. But the good news is that we have Mother Nature’s boon – Sesame. It has significant amounts of vitamin K and provides about 17% of everyday value for 100 grams.

According to, conditions like ringing in the ears (Tinnitus), excess earwax, lockjaw, TMJ, and poor hearing can be treated using sesame oil. They suggest putting five drops of lightly warmed sesame oil in every ear to treat these disorders.

Sesame Oil Is Not Good, If:

  • You are taking certain medicines for ear problems or using eardrops already. It might interact with the drug and cause a serious side effect. Consult with an ENT before you use.
  • You are allergic to sesame. It might cause skin rashes in the ear.

9. Basil Leaves

how to unclog ear

Apart from treating plugged ears, basil leaves is a well-known remedy for ear infections too. It is widely used by Indian herbalists and is practiced since ancient days. Basil leaves have many medicinal and healing properties. So, there is a good reason why people call it the “Holy Basil”. To try a remedy using basil leaves for your blocked ears, follow the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Take a handful of fresh basil leaves. Wash them.
  • Step 2: Use a sieve to extract the juice.
  • Step 3: Pour two drops of the extracted juice into the infected ear.
  • Step 4: Do this for 3 to 4 days.

How Does This Work to Unclog Ears?

Like sesame, even basil leaves are rich in vitamin K, which is required for treating ear infections or other ear-related problems.

Besides used in cooking, Basil leaves can treat many health problems. To name a few, it can calm coughing, boost your energy levels, and soothe a headache. Basil leaves have antiseptic, antibiotic and healing properties. According to research at Purdue University, basil leaves contain various essential oils that are fortified with phenolic compounds and polyphenols like flavonoids and anthocyanins. The herb also contains large amounts of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (or BCP), which is helpful in treating inflammatory bowel disorders and arthritis.

Basil Is Not Good, If:

  • You are allergic to any of the compounds present in basil leaves.
  • You are already using some other eardrops.

8. Olive Oil

home remedies for ear congestion

There is a myth that the olive tree was presented to humanity by Goddess Athena. Ancient famous author Homer has compared olive oil to liquid gold. Thomas Jefferson, one of the Presidents of USA had praised it as the ‘richest gift of heaven.’ The popularity of this oil has spread everywhere. Medical research is yet to discern all the medicinal properties, but it has been proved that olive oil has numerous benefits.

One of the healthiest diet in the world – as per medical researchers – the Mediterranean – boasts of having olive oil among its midst. Even though there are numerous medicinal food items in the diet such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and other items, olive oil can be termed as an integral part of the benefits.

Some of the health benefits of olive oil are treatment in breast and colon cancer, heart problems, weight loss, promotion of metabolism, anti-aging benefits, and prevention of cancer. Moreover, this oil can also be used effectively for ear blockages. To try a remedy using this ingredient, try the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Take a teaspoon of olive oil and make it warm in a bowl.
  • Step 2: After testing with the tip of your index finger, take the help of a dropper to put three drops of the same oil into the affected ear.
  • Step 3: If the clogging of the ears is due to excessive earwax, let the oil remain in the ear for ten minutes.
  • Step 4: Let it become soft.

How Does This Work to Unclog Ears?

Even if the ailment is only due to more earwax, the anti-inflammatory, as well as antimicrobial properties (due to phenols such as tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol), will cure the place of any infection. The flavones such as luteolin and apigenin display anticancer properties.

One of the most important antioxidants (phytonutrient) is oleuropein. This component can reduce many conditions of stress and prevent damage to nerve cells.

Olive Oil Is Not Good, If:

  • You have symptoms of ear drainage and ear pain
  • You have problems of hearing loss; buzz sounds in the ear etc.

7. Alcohol and Apple Cider Vinegar

home remedies for congested ears

Home remedies have been in occurrence since ancient times, and their main intention is to reduce the symptoms of the ailment and give relief. Coming to unplugged ears due to wax, alcohol and apple cider vinegar makes a lethal combination to get relief if an insect has been trapped in the ear, bacteria infection or wax build-up. If the ear pain remains consistent for more than two days, it is vital to consult a physician. The reason is that extreme pain may point to symptoms of a ruptured eardrum.

The history of vinegar is aplenty, as this liquid was used by Hippocrates to treat wounds, and for stomachaches. However, to try a remedy using this combination, follow the points listed below:

  • Step 1: Mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of alcohol in a small bowl.
  • Step 2: Lie on the side the ear is infected and using a dropper, put two drops of the mixture into the affected ear.
  • Step 3: Avoid the mixture coming out by placing a cotton ball.
  • Step 4: After a rest duration of ten minutes, let the mixture do its work.
  • Step 5: The earwax can be removed with a selected harmless ear bud.

How Does This Work for Clogged Ears?

Kindly note that the vinegar is prepared through a fermentation process. It has many active components such as catechin, acetic acid, lactic acid, ascorbic acid, propionic, succinic, tartaric, caffeic acid, epicatechin which have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

The strong acidic properties of apple cider vinegar assist the body in clearing the mucus and can clear out the sinus. The antibacterial properties are thus useful in the case of infections.  The vinegar changes the pH nature of the ear canal to acidic, thus changing to a condition where the virus and bacteria cannot thrive, thus giving relief to ear blocked problems.

This Remedy Is Not Good, If:

You are using some other eardrops already. It may interact with the components of the drug and cause a problem. Consult with an ENT before you use.

6. Warm Compress

best remedies for plugged ears

This type of treatment, as you can make out, is very effective in the treatment of ear pain (clogged by sinus congestion or colds). The heat obtained from the warm compress can assist in loosening the congestion, the ears can get unclogged, and the pain will be reduced – you get relief. Here is what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Dip a clean white cloth in warm water.
  • Step 2: Wring out the extra water. Hold the cloth below the affected ear and on the affected ear for 5 to 10 minutes. Ensure that the water does not go in the ear.

How Does This Work for Ear Congestion?

In many cases, you will get ear pain when the canals are blocked. When you use the heat option, the drainage of the fluids will be made easy. The blocks will disappear, there will be free flow, and you get relief from blocked ears symptoms.

Warm Compress Is Not Good, If:

  • You have an ear infection. This remedy should not be practiced as the conditions might worsen. The symptoms are – yellow discharge from the ear
  • You have a slight fever because of ear pain or cannot turn your head in the opposite direction from the affected ear. It is mandatory that you consult an ENT expert as soon as possible.

5. Yawning

home remedies for clogged ears

Yes, you have read it right. Yawning is one of the best home remedies for clogged ears. The action assists the mouth to reduce air pressure in the ear.

  • Step 1: Open your mouth gently and slowly and let the action become a yawn.
  • Step 2: After a gap of ten seconds, repeat the yawning action.
  • Step 3: Continue the procedure for fifteen minutes with the same gap duration.
  • Step 4: You can feel a slight pop in the ear.
  • Step 5: The muscles, responsible for opening the Eustachian tubes are opened. As explained in the previous paragraph, doing the action slowly will be more effective and less harmful. You will be the best judge to decide the course of speed. A slow opening of the mouth and then elongating into a yawn can release the pressure and cause the tubes to open when the ear feels clogged.

How Does This Work for Clogged Ears?

When you yawn, the air pressure, which is caught in the Eustachian tubes, is released, and you get relief from pain.

Yawning Is Not Good, If:

  • You are experiencing severe pain.
  • You are getting a discharge from the ear. Consult an ENT expert.

4. Gargle With Salt Water

home remedies for blocked ears

This remedy can help in both ways. The ears will be unclogged, and you can get relief from nasal congestion.

  • Step 1: Take one teaspoon of salt and a small glass containing warm water.
  • Step 2: Mix until they become a solution.
  • Step 3: This solution can be used for gargling.
  • Step 4: Continue the procedure for nearly thirty seconds.
  • Step 5: Now spit the liquid out.
  • Step 6: Continue the procedure giving a gap of twenty seconds after each gargle for six times.

How Does This Work?

The swishing of the water in the mouth can lead to a reduction in ear pressure, and the canals will be opened.

3. Tea Tree Oil Inhalation

natural remedies for clogged ears

This oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.

  • Step 1: Take two cups of water in a bowl.
  • Step 2: Bring them to a boil.
  • Step 3: You can add three drops of tea tree oil to the mixture.

How Does This Work to Unclog Ears?

As you stir the mixture and inhale the contents, the medical components called as terpenoids assist in the opening of the tubes, and you get relief. Also, this oil also has antiseptic properties. However, as per the guidance by naturopathy doctors, the oil should always be diluted and used as recommended in the bottle.

The anti-inflammatory property of this oil brings about a reduction in pain as well as irritation. The major medicinal component is terpinen-4-ol, which has antimicrobial properties. The slow inhalation of deep breaths can bring about change and relief.

Inhaling Tea Tree Oil Is Not Good, If:

  • You use this oil as it is. It can lead to side effects such as discomfort, irritation, swelling of the skin. The required content is equal to or less than three percent of tea tree oil.
  • You face dizziness. Stop inhaling the vapor.
  • You are allergic to any of the components in tea tree oil.
  • You have children at home. Ingestion of tea tree oil can result in rashes, dizziness and might prove fatal (coma).
  • You are pregnant. Refrain from using this method.

2. Garlic Oil

home remedies for clogged ears

One of the best remedies for plugged ears is straight from the kitchen – Garlic. In fact, it can be mentioned, as the best ear drops for blocked ears. Garlic is been used around the centuries to treat almost all the infections and pain over the years. It’s a proven remedy for ailments such as sore throats, yeast infections, sinus, earaches and unclogging the ears. When it comes to treating the clogged ear, this remedy is one of the primary and easiest ones as its available in the kitchen always. It’s really very simple to apply in your ear and get relief from the clogged ear. Consult with your doctor regarding the usage of garlic on your ears. Though they’re not so many scientific evidence shown on the efficacy of garlic on-ear clogs, there are some exists.

Garlic has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial benefits. It also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. So when it is consumed it helps to boost the immune system. Applying garlic may help to reduce or eliminate the earache and unclogging the ears based on the severity. Essential oils also showing the same benefits

  • Step 1: Take three cloves of garlic and olive oil (two tablespoons).
  • Step 2: Mash the garlic cloves.
  • Step 3: Add a few drops of olive oil.
  • Step 4: Heat the mixture together in a saucepan for at least ten seconds.
  • Step 5: Let the mixture cool to normal temperature.
  • Step 6: Put the oil in the ear and let it remain for one minute (three drops).
  • Step 7: Drain the oil out by tilting the ear.

Once you make the garlic oil, you can keep it in the refrigerator and use it for up to 3 days. After that this oil loses all its benefits.

How Does This Work for Ear Congestion?

Garlic contains a medicinal component named allicin, which has many beneficial properties such as antibacterial etc. In the case of ear infection, the microbes are killed.

1. Follow The Dynamic Laws of Physics

home remedies for clogged ears

Consider Mother Nature’s dynamic laws of physics, if you find that the clogging of ears is due to the fluid (water) in the tubes. Here is what you need to do:

  • Step 1: Stand on one foot.
  • Step 2: Tilt your head to the side containing the blockage.
  • Step 3: You can either hop (be careful while doing this)
  • Step 4: The liquid may be dislodged if caught in the ear canal.

Alternate Method

  • Step 1: Rest your head on the same side using a soft pillow. The ear having the problem should be kept downward.
  • Step 2: Remain in the same position for an hour.
  • Step 3: Put a cloth over the pillow to avoid it getting drenched.
Prevention Tips

As the saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ To prevent yourself from having blocked ears or clogged ears, here are few things to make a note of:

  1. The moment, you realize the symptom of clogged ears; do the necessary physical activities such as swallowing, yawning or chewing gum. The actions will balance the pressure in the ears especially when you are flying in an airplane.
  2. If you are having a sinus problem, kindly take care of extreme temperatures.
  3. If you are on a vacation for scuba diving, do the process slowly. When you go up and down by balancing the pressure, the ear is not clogged. It is better to avoid scuba diving when you are suffering from cold or respiratory infections.
  4. Elated at flying in an airplane? Though filled with joy, you might also be having butterflies in your stomach. If it is for the first time, when the plane descends, just yawn or wiggle the jaws. The best action will be chewing candy or gum. In the case of children, if you are traveling in an airplane for the first time let them sip a drink during the descending time so as not to be affected by clogged ears.
  5. The best part, you feel the symptoms, close the nostrils and exhale through the mouth. However, do this at a slow pace, as you do not want to put an unlimited strain on the ears.
  6. You can also take a hot shower for a quarter of an hour. The heat might open up the packed ear tubes. However, do not perform this method if you are doing this for the first time or you have cold or infection.
  7. As mentioned in the article, you can also include foods containing hot components in the diet. Some of them are onions, radish, chilies, jalapeno, etc. They can be used effectively to combat congestion.
  8. Grandma’s remedy comes in handy – hot chicken soup can unclog your ear. The recipe from the kitchen, which can include hot spices, can give the desired result.
  9. The last – but not the least – it is important to identify the real cause of the ailment. If you are unable to understand the problem, then take the guidance of a physician as organs on the face are sensitive, and they are too valuable to be lost.

 Some Actions You Can Avoid:

  1. You might face irritation a few times, but that does not mean you have to clean the wax regularly.
  2. The device (Q-tips) needs to be used for cleaning of the outer ear ONLY.
  3. Refrain from using earplugs or any device if you have had an injured eardrum before or any ear injury.
  4. In case, a foreign article has been stuck in the ear, do not put any earplug on the sensitive organ. You might end up harming more. Consult an ear specialist to solve the problem.
  5. Previously, if you have had ear surgery, it is advisable not to ignore small symptoms such as earache and clogging of ears.

When to See a Doctor?

Going by the majority of cases, clogged ears because of sinus problems are few, and their duration is small. Most of the time, they go away on their own. However, it is mandatory to see a doctor if:

  • Your ear problem is related to a sinus issue
  • You have a fever.
  • Your ear pain is severe.
  • You opt for home remedies but have swelling of the ear, face or head. The situation does not seem to get better.
  • If you happen to get clogged ears frequently. You have used any of the suggested home remedial procedures; the symptoms have disappeared for a week and similar to the film dialogue in Terminator ‘They are back.’

Natural Remedy Vs. Pharmacy

  • You can find eardrops such as Cerumol (containing chlorobutanol, which displays the same properties of antifungal and antibacterial). These drops can soften the wax in the ears and thereby relieve your clogged ear.
  • Care Sodium Bicarbonate Ear Drops for clogged ears – As the name suggests, the component is sodium bicarbonate, and the ear is cleaned, and the clogging is relieved.
  • Similasan Ear Relief: Homeopathic medicine. You can get relief from clogged ear sensations.
  • You can also try Antipyrine-Benzocaine Otic, but it is essential to seek the guidance of a doctor before use. The eardrops will reduce the inflammation and reduce the pain because of the clogginess of ears. Also, it contains glycerin, which can soften the earwax, and assists in protecting the skin.
  • There are also earwax removal kits such as Debrox.

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