It's hard to ignore a blocked ear or congestion in the ear. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it also leaves the person with a constant feeling of heaviness. Often, there is so much discomfort that the person is unable to focus on any activities until the congestion clears up.

There could be many different causes for ear congestion but it mainly occurs due to blockage of the inner ear, specifically the eustachian tube - a small tube that joins your ear with your nose. The issue demands immediate intervention and instant relief, if possible.

If you are someone who is suffering from ear congestion and looking for a natural way to clear the blockage, read on to know some easy and effective ways to deal with your condition.

  1. Home remedies for blocked ear
  2. What not to do to relieve a blocked ear
  3. When to see a doctor for blocked ear
Doctors for Home Remedies for Blocked Ear

There are different reasons that may lead to ear congestion. This article is divided into sections containing remedies specific to the associated reason:

  • Wax blocking the ear
  • Water blocking the ear
  • Blocked ear in a flight or while travelling to a hill station
  • Allergy and infections

Figure out what is the cause for your discomfort and try the respective remedy to find ease and relief. Let us dig into the first common cause:

Home remedies to remove earwax from blocked ear

Your ear secretes earwax, medically known as cerumen. This wax is responsible for cleaning and protecting the ear canals. It is resistant to water and sticky in nature, which helps it trap dust and other foreign substances entering the ear. Usually, ear wax moves out of the ear by ciliary action (motility due to cilia, organelles that can move) but sometimes it accumulates inside and gives a heavy feeling along with mild pain. Ear wax is not an ear disease and can be easily handled at home. You should try natural softeners, to begin with.

Some of the natural ear wax softeners are:

Natural Oils

Olive oil: Oil-based ear wax cleansers can help to loosen the sticky wax by softening it down and making it fall outside the outer ear canal. Here is how you can use it:

What you will need:

Procedure:

  • Heat the oil slightly so that it comes up to body temperature. Pour two-three drops inside the affected ear.
  • Lay down on your side on the bed such that the blocked ear is towards the ceiling.
  • Wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the oil to complete its action.
  • Repeat on the other ear.
  • Repeat this for two to three days to clear out dirt and wax from your ear.

Almond oil: Almond oil is equally effective as olive oil and works by a similar mechanism. Follow the same steps you would have done with olive oil.

Caution: If you experience a burning sensation in the ear while using natural oils, stop using the oil and consult your doctor. Do not follow this remedy over a long period, as prolonged use of the oils may make the condition worse.

Glycerin

Glycerin is widely used in the preparation of various over-the-counter ear-wax softeners. You can remove your earwax without buying the commercial products. Just use plain glycerin, the same one that you probably use for moisturising your skin. Here is an easy way to use glycerin to get rid of ear congestion:

What you will need:

  • Glycerin
  • A dropper

Procedure:

  • Lie down on your side, with your blocked ear facing up.
  • Put three drops of glycerin into the congested ear.
  • Wait for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat this remedy twice daily for four days.
  • You will be free from blockage caused by cerumen in no time

Hydrogen peroxide

Another very effective way of opening blockage caused by earwax is by using hydrogen peroxide. In fact, it is one of the agents used by doctors to remove wax buildup in your ear. You can use this solution at home in the following way:

What you will need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide solution diluted with equal parts water
  • Cotton swab

Procedure:

  • Take a cotton swab, dip it in the hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • Squeeze the cotton swab gently into your ear so that two to three drops of hydrogen peroxide fall inside.
  • Tilt your head in a way that the ear canal faces upward; wait for a minute in the same position. Gravity will do the work for you by pulling the solution inside through the wax and loosen it.
  • After a minute, tilt your head in the opposite direction to allow the fluid and wax to come out of the ear.

Caution: Never use an earbud to take the wax out - you may end up pushing the wax farther inside the ear.

Read more: How to remove ear wax naturally

What to do for water blocking my ear?

It is quite common to get water trapped inside the ears while bathing or swimming. This can leave you with a constant feeling of fullness, buzzing, humming and a tingling sensation in the ear. The excess water may even increase the risk of infectionSwimmer’s ear is a common infection of the outer ear canal that is caused due to swimming in contaminated water.

Most of us have experienced the discomfort of getting water in our ears. Most of us have also tried methods like putting a finger inside the ear and shaking it vigorously in an attempt to push the water out. But doing this may cause more harm than good. Here's a simple yet effective way to get the water out of your ears:

  • Use a dry towel to absorb the excess water in your ear every time you go swimming.
  • Tilt your head - make sure that the ear that is blocked with water is facing the floor. While you wait a few minutes for gravity to do its magic, you can also play your part by gently pulling the ear in different directions.
  • Doing this will probably make the water flow out.
  • If this doesn’t help, use a hairdryer. But with caution:
    • Keep the speed and heat of the hairdryer on the lowest.
    • Blow your ear dry by maintaining adequate distance from the ear opening.

Home remedies for blocked ear after flight and in the hills

When you go to a high altitude destination like a hill station for holiday, you can sometimes feel a twinge in your ear. There's a reason for this. Usually, the pressure inside and outside the ear is equal - the eustachian tube connecting your middle ear to nose and throat maintains this equilibrium.

When you travel to a height, it creates a pressure difference inside and outside the ear leading to discomfort. It may also damage your ear. To clear the congestion caused by high altitude, follow these tips and tricks:

  • Yawning: Make yourself yawn voluntarily. Doing this opens up the eustachian tube and lets air flow in and out of the middle portion of the ear, easing the discomfort.
  • Swallowing: While going up, try to swallow frequently. If you are prone to motion sickness, just deliberately swallow your saliva. If not, you can also suck on some sweets.
  • Chewing gum: Chewing gum while travelling up or down may help you prevent ear canal blockage. This will make you swallow regularly, maintaining the pressure at equilibrium.
  • Blowing exercise: Another way to get rid of the congestion caused by altitude change is to breathe to full lung capacity, close the nostrils and mouth tightly and try to blow the air out. While doing this, don't apply too much force as it can lead to an ear infection by irritating the bacteria inside the ear canal or it can also create a minute hole in the ear canal.
  • Don't sleep: Try not to sleep while the plane is landing and follow any of the above-mentioned tricks to prevent or ease the congestion.

Tip: For infants and children, make them sip any drink slowly and continuously to ease the discomfort.

Home remedies for blocked ear due to allergy or infection

Allergies and infections like the cold, flu, sore throat, pharyngitis and sinusitis can also cause ear congestion. These conditions have a tendency to affect the ear canal and middle ear as well if left untreated for prolonged periods. The situation can become severe and needs immediate intervention.

Here are some of the home remedies that you can try for discomfort in the ear:

Steam inhalation

To ease the pressure build-up in the ear and nose due to cold or sinus infection, steam inhalation can work wonders. It loosens the mucus and makes it flow out more easily. To be effective, steam inhalation needs to be done the right way. Try it in the following way:

What you will need:

  • Water
  • Saucepan
  • Towel

Procedure:

  • Take a saucepan, fill it with water and bring it to a boil.
  • Keep it boiling for a few minutes so that it can give steam for a longer period of time.
  • Take a clean, large towel, cover your head and saucepan with the towel in a way that steam comes directly to your face without escaping anywhere in the surrounding.
  • Take deep breaths and keep inhaling the steam for a few minutes.

Tip: You can also take a hot water bath or sit in a hot water bath as an alternative to steam inhalation.

Warm compress

Another way of using hot water is by taking warm compress to release the congestion, especially when it is caused by sinusitis. When you suffer from a sinus infection, your whole face and ears feel heavy. In this situation, giving yourself some localized warmth can help. Here is how you can take a warm compress:

What you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Saucepan
  • Cotton cloth or handkerchief

Procedure:

  • Boil about a litre of water in a saucepan.
  • Turn off the gas and take a cotton cloth or handkerchief.
  • Soak it in warm water and then squeeze out the water.
  • Cover the congested area with the piece of cloth.
  • Repeat the process until the water loses its heat.
  • By doing this, you will feel lightness in your head, ear and face instantly.
  • For best results, do this twice a day for a few days.

Essential oils

There's no denying the goodness of essential oils. Of course, they smell great. But in addition to this, they have many medicinal properties. When it comes to easing ear congestion caused by various allergies and infections, essential oils stand out because of their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties. Eucalyptus oil is one of the most effective essential oils for treating ear congestion. Here is an easy way to use essential oils for ear congestion:

What you’ll need:

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Boiling water in a saucepan or steamer
  • Large towel

Procedure:

  • Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to steaming water.
  • Use the towel to cover yourself enough to not let the steam escape.
  • Inhale the steam for as long as possible.

If you are not keen on taking steam, you can just pick up the bottle of oil and take a whiff.

Black onion seed (kalonji) oil

Black seeds are often ignored in our kitchens, though they are the secret ingredient in many delectable recipes and they have several health benefits.

Black seed oil holds great potential to treat and prevent serious health problems like asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, abdominal issues, haemorrhoids and many more. Here is how you can use this oil to relieve ear congestion:

What you will need:

  • Black onion seed oil

Procedure:

  • Take some black seed oil on your palm.
  • Rub it between your fingers and then massage it gently over the affected area.
  • Do not put this oil in your ear without asking a doctor first.

Oil of black seeds is also edible so you can add it in your diet to get more of its benefits.

Avoid using ear candles

Most people assume that the warmth of ear candles generates suction that expels ear wax and other impurities.

However, an ear candle might be the worst thing you can put in your ear. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, you should never try using an ear candle. It won't melt your earwax, instead, it can damage your ear permanently.

Other possible associated risks are clogging, bleeding, perforation in the eardrum and burns.

Avoid poking your ear

Don't poke your ear with cotton swabs, pencil, pen or even fingers. It may cause damage to the eardrum by creating perforations. In some cases, it can even lead to hearing loss. While doing this, you could also push the wax deeper inside the ear, worsening your condition.

It is a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any step that could risk your health and physical status. Here are some of the signs that suggest the need for professional intervention:

  • If home remedies are not working at all
  • Constant and concentrated pain in the ear
  • Ear congestion that lasts for more than 48 hours
Dr. Chintan Nishar

Dr. Chintan Nishar

ENT
10 Years of Experience

Dr. K. K. Handa

Dr. K. K. Handa

ENT
21 Years of Experience

Dr. Aru Chhabra Handa

Dr. Aru Chhabra Handa

ENT
24 Years of Experience

Dr. Jitendra Patel

Dr. Jitendra Patel

ENT
22 Years of Experience

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