Clogged ears/plugged ears is a very usual complaint these days. First, here is a little introduction as to how and why our ears get clog. Our ears have three parts: outer, middle and inner ear. The middle ears connect to the back of the pharynx (throat) via the Eustachian (auditory) tube on either side. These tubes function to clear away mucus from the middle ear cavity as they contain cilia, which help in drainage of mucus from the ear thereby preventing infection to move up into the middle ear cavity. In addition, they also serve to equalize air pressure between the two eardrums. This sensation of fullness in the ears can be extremely annoying! This could be due to the accumulation of mucus/wax, airflow obstruction to the auditory tubes, allergies, cold and sinus issues, abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure while in an aircraft, or ascending or descending a mountain, as well as serious conditions like otitis media (a middle ear infection), which require medical treatment.
Here are the 10 best ways to get rid of clogged ears:
Yawning opens the Eustachian tube allowing fluid to re-distribute between the ears, diminishing air pressure in your clogged ear canals and can help in a way.
Swallow as much as you can. Sometimes pinching your nostril with your finger and swallowing repetitively helps. This assists in reducing the stuffed feeling in the ears by the same mechanism as yawning.
3. Chewing gum
Chewing a gum works in the similar method to unclog clogged ears.
4. Valsalva Maneuver
Inhale deeply, pinch your nostrils with your fingers, and simultaneously close your mouth. Next, exhale out the air as if you are filling up a balloon while keeping your nostrils and mouth closed. You will hear a popping sound that indicates some air pressure release in your canals, especially advised for people travelling in an airplane. Be sure not to blow off too hard as this can damage the delicate tympanic membrane (eardrum).
5. Olive Oil
When the stuffed feeling in the ears is due to cerumen (wax) accumulation, this remedy can be effective. Here is how to use it: warm up the olive oil for a few seconds. Next use a dropper to instill the lukewarm olive oil into the affected ear. Keeping your head tilted sideways; allow it to settle in for approximately 10 minutes. The wax will soften up; afterwards use a q-tip to remove the oil and earwax. Be gentle with your eardrums while performing this maneuver. Repeat the same remedy for at least 2-3 times daily for up to 5-7 days.
6. Warm Compresses
A warm compress is a fine natural treatment for stuffy ears. Soak a cloth in warm-hot water. Wring out the excess water and hold the warm cloth close to your ear for about five to ten minutes.
For wax build up, another solution is to instill a few drops of glycerin into the ear with a dropper. Allow it to stay in for five to ten minutes. Subsequently, use a rubber bulb syringe (like one used for babies) to aid evacuation of the soften earwax.
8. Warm Water Irrigation
Tilt your head sideways with the clogged ear facing upwards towards the ceiling. Pull your ear lobe up and out to straighten up the canal. Fill a bulb syringe, or ear syringe with warm water, irrigate the ear canal, gently spouting warmed water via the syringe. Be cautious not to apply too much pressure while performing this as this can damage the delicate organ.
9. Hydrogen Peroxide
Fill a dropper with 3-4 drops of hydrogen peroxide. Pulling the ear lobe outwards and backwards, drop into the ear with wax build up. A fizzing sound will be heard which indicates softening of cerumen. After a period of five to ten minutes, tilt the head to opposite direction, which will allow drainage of the hydrogen peroxide solution and earwax. You can place a dish or bowl to collect in the solution, which sweeps out.
10. Nasal Saline Spray
Use nasal saline spray or alternatively, you can prepare one by adding one teaspoon of salt in two cups of distilled warm water in a sinus rinse bottle or a neti pot. Bend your head forwards over the sink or basin, insert the nozzle of the bottle into one nostril with the tip of the nozzle pointing towards the back of the head, squeeze the sinus rinse bottle, and allow drainage of the solution via the other nostril.