How Can You Unblock Your Ear?

Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022

How to unblock your ears naturally

There are many things you can do to try to unclog your ears.
There are many things you can do to try to unclog your ears.

There are times when your ears get clogged for various reasons. This can cause pain and discomfort and may affect your hearing. Below are a few common ways to unblock your ears

  • Chew gum or suck on hard candy or mints to activate your swallowing reflex to help open the middle ear. 
  • Yawn to unblock your ears immediately.
  • Pinch your nostrils shut and try to blow air out of them to open your eustachian tubes.
  • Gargle with water (with/without salt) to help prevent upper respiratory infections. It can also help ease symptoms of nasal congestion and clogged ears associated with a cold or flu.

11 Tips to unclog your ears

However, if you have drainage, discomfort, or symptoms of an ear infection, the above methods would be a bad idea. Below are a few other methods to help unclog your ears:

  • Hydrogen peroxide can be used to break up ear wax. Mix the solution with warm water making sure that the water isn’t too hot and then put a drop or two into your ear with a dropper. Tip your head to the side so that your ear faces upward while putting the drops in. Stay that way for several seconds to allow the hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the ear wax. You may have to do this a few times a day for a couple of days.
  • Another home remedy is to inhale the steam. Steam may help thin and loosen mucus, so it can be expelled.  A hot steamy shower, sauna, or humidifier will work in the same way.
  • Eat hot foods or spicy foods (such as curries or horseradish) to thin mucus that is blocking your ears. It will also help with nasal congestion

The following techniques should help you get rid of the water trapped in your ears.

  • The gravity/jiggling technique: Lie on the ground with your affected ear parallel to the floor, tilt your head and jiggle your earlobe. Gravity will take care of the rest. You may use a cotton swab to remove any water remaining in your ears.
  • The Valsalva maneuver: Scuba divers and airline travelers are familiar with this trick. It involves plugging your nose and blowing it using modest force. This helps normalize the pressure in your ears and allows water to drain out.
  • The vacuum technique: Place the palm of your hand over your plugged-up ear and press gently for a few seconds to create suction that should help dislodge water from the ear canal. Repeat until your ear is open.
  • The hair dryer technique: Aim a hair dryer on its lowest heat setting at your ear (don’t get too close) to help dry out your ear canals. Don’t worry, if you don’t get rid of it all at first, the rest should drain out on its own.
  • The pulling technique: Reach around the back of your head and tug gently on the outer portion of your ear with your opposing hand. This will straighten out the ear canal and allow water to drain out.
  • The chemical technique: If none of these natural techniques help, there are several over-the-counter alcohol-based ear drops designed to remove moisture from the ear canals.

Recommended ear wax removal methods

  • You may need to use wax-softening drops such as Waxsol or Cerumol for a few days. You can also use olive oil. These oils soften ear wax and help it fall out on its own. Put the drops into your affected ear while tilting your head so that your affected ear points upwards for 5 to 10 minutes. Some people find that the drops cause a burning sensation. If pain occurs, stop using the drops and see your doctor.
  • Microsuction is the safest and most gentle way to remove this wax buildup. Doctors take snapshots of the wax using a sophisticated microscope and they can safely remove it using a gentle suction tool. In some cases, the wax is too deeply embedded to be removed by micro-suction. Syringing and irrigation may then be an option.

If the blocked ear feeling persists or if your symptoms get worse (fever and pain) after several days, you probably have an infection. See your doctor and get appropriate treatment. Ear infections should not be taken lightly because they can become serious and cause irreversible hearing loss.

Medically Reviewed on 6/29/2022
Medscape Medical Reference

Cleveland Clinic