Have you ever suddenly experienced trouble hearing? Your ear ached and there was a popping sensation inside? Plugged ears can be not only annoying, but also painful. But before reaching for pharmaceutical solutions, you can try several natural ways to unclog your ears. If you suffer from excessive ear wax, make sure to read the section about the ear wax removal.
Clogged Ears – The Sinus-Ear Connection
Ear troubles are often caused by colds and allergies affecting your respiratory system. Your nose and ears are connected via the Eustachian tubes – when you get a stuffy nose and congested sinuses, this also disturbs your ears and makes you less able to equalize air pressure.
The most common culprits behind plugged ears are viral and bacterial infections and allergies, but too narrow Eustachian tubes can play a role in it as well.
Other reasons for having to deal with uncomfortable sensations inside your head include:
- Ear wax build-up (find instructions below on how to naturally remove ear wax)
- Changes in atmospheric pressure (for example, when travelling in a plane or when hiking or driving on high altitudes)
- Water accumulation inside the ear
Natural Ways for Getting Rid of Clogged Ears
Nip the problem in the bud before it escalates. Equalize the pressure in your ears (for example, when you fly) by:
- Chewing (gum)
This is another great technique to normalize middle-ear pressure and can be performed any time and anywhere. It involves a moderately forceful exhalation against a closed airway. It is also one of the best ways to get water out of your plugged ear.
- Pinch your nose so you close the nostrils.
- Breathe out as if trying to exhale through a closed nose. Don’t do it in a too powerful way or you might hurt your eardrum. There should be no pain involved.
- You might hear a pooping sound, which means the pressure has been relieved.
Adopt a Good Sleeping Position
Many conditions deteriorate over night and we wake up feeling groggy and run down.
- If you sleep on your back, use a few pillows to prop your head up and sleep in a semi-upright position. This will help with passage draining.
- According to The American Academy of Family Physicians, it also helps to lie on your side. This reduces pressure and enables your ears to unclog.
Other Natural Remedies to Help with Clogged & Stuffy Ears
1. Warm compress
Warmth from the compress will soothe the pain and help with congestion.
– Soak a towel or washcloth in warm water and wring it out.
– Place it over the ear for 10 minutes.
– Alternatively, you can also wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place it over the painful ear.
2. Saline nasal rinse
I have mentioned in several of my previous posts nasal irrigation using a neti pot. It’s advisable to do these twice daily to reduce the inflammation of your nasal tissue and Eustachian tubes.
3. Gargling warm water salt solution
– Mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water.
– Swish it around your mouth and gargle for 15 to 20 seconds.
– Spit it out.
– Repeat as often as possible until you feel relief in your ears.
4. Tea tree oil inhalations
Tea tree essential oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. It contains constituents called terpenoids and it is believed that these naturally occurring organic chemicals are the main reason for its healing properties. I’ve already written an article about 75 extraordinary uses for tee tree oil but did you know that it can also help with clogged ears.
If it’s cold that’s causing your ear problems, inhalations are an easy solution.
– Pour boiling water in a bowl.
– Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil – you can also use lavender or eucalyptus oils.
– Inhale the steam, but be careful not to get burnt.
5. Garlic oil
Make your own garlic oil and pour a few drops into the clogged ear.
– Mash two cloves of garlic.
– Add two tablespoons of olive oil.
– Heat it together in a saucepan for a few seconds.
– Let it cool down a bit and then put it in your ear for 1 minute.
– Drain the oil out.
Ear Wax Removal
If your ears are clogged with wax, you need to remove it. Several home remedies can do the trick.
Be very careful when cleaning inside your ears.
1. Olive oil
– Warm some extra-virgin olive oil.
– Put a few drops in the affected ear using a dropper.
– Keep your head sideways for a few minutes to help the oil settle.
– Olive oil softens the wax, so you can then gently and carefully remove it with a cotton bud when it comes to the outer part of the ear.
2. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and alcohol
ACV has amazing health benefits – this mixture works in an antibacterial way and enables you to remove the wax by softening it.
– Mix equal amounts of ACV and rubbing alcohol.
– Put a few drops of this solution in your ear.
– Keep your head sideways, so the mix stays in. You can also put a piece of cotton ball over your ear to prevent the fluid from dripping out.
– Let it work for 10 minutes.
– Remove the wax carefully with a cotton bud.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
– Put two drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide in your clogged ear. Don’t exceed that amount or you could damage your eardrum.
– Wait until you hear a fizzing sound (it should take a few minutes).
– Let it fizz for few minutes until it stops.
– Tilt your head to the side, so that the solution and ear wax can drip out.
Hydrogen peroxide can also treat ear infection due to its antiseptic properties.
Some More Tips for Unplugging Your Ears
Use a humidifier in your bedroom. This will provide your sinuses with the much needed moisture and might relieve the pressure.
To alleviate the pain, sit in the bathroom with a hot shower running – the steam helps clear the passages and prevents them from drying out.
Sinus-related problems can be made worse by temperature extremes – if you feel your nose and ears are playing up, skip the morning jog on a freezing day.
Avoid sudden changes in body position (this can cause dizziness) and keep your head up. Don’t shake your head or stand up fast.
Drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucus and prevent congestion. Avoid alcohol, too much tea and coffee, tobacco and overly salty foods. They can affect your blood circulation and further worsen the condition of your ears.