12 tips to relieve a blocked ear
If you wake up with a blocked ear, these 12 tips may help you ease your symptoms:
- Fluid intake: Take a few sips of water.
- You may try sipping warm water because it may help relieve symptoms of congestion.
- You may try sucking a hard candy to get relief. Hard candies must not be given to toddlers or young children due to the risk of choking.
- You may feed babies and young children to encourage swallowing and provide relief.
- Chewing gum: Chewing gum may help unblock your clogged ear.
- Doing so helps increase saliva production and the consequent swallowing opens up the eustachian tube (a tube-like passage connecting the throat to the middle ear).
- Chewing gums should not be given to children younger than six years.
- Yawning: This may help pop your ears and provide relief.
- You may try yawning several times until you get some relief.
- Like swallowing, yawning also helps open the eustachian tube.
- Valsalva maneuver: It involves attempting to breathe out (exhale) forcefully against a closed airway.
- To perform this maneuver, pinch your nose, and while keeping your mouth closed, try to blow out of your nose. Avoid doing it too forcefully.
- You may hear a popping sound, which means that your ear blockage is relieved.
- You may then sip some water or chew gum to keep your ears unclogged.
- Toynbee maneuver: Similar to Valsalva maneuver except that after pinching your nose, you try to swallow or take a few sips of water.
- Decongestants: You may try using over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant nose drops to help relieve swelling in your nasal passages and eustachian tube.
- Avoid using them for more than two to three days.
- Do not give decongestant sprays or drops to children younger than 12 years.
- Steroid drops: OTC nasal drops that contain steroids may help relieve inflammation particularly in people with allergies.
- Antihistamine pills: If your symptoms are due to an underlying allergy, OTC antihistamine pills may provide relief.
- Warm towel: Keep a warm towel around the opening of the affected ear since this may help relieve symptoms.
- Steam inhalation: It may help reduce congestion from your nose and sinuses and provide relief from a blocked ear.
- Avoid steam inhalation in young children to avoid the risk of burns.
- Ear drops: Must only be used after perforation (a hole in the eardrum) and infection have been ruled out.
- You may put a few drops of baby oil or mineral oil, glycerin, or a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide to soften the earwax.
- After putting the ear drop, keep your head tilted so that the affected ear is upward for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Tilt your head on the opposite side to drain the affected ear and wipe it clean.
- OTC earwax-softening drugs are available. Use them as per label instructions.
- Ear irrigation: This may be done with the help of a rubber bulb syringe and some warm water.
- Tilt your head so that the affected ear is upward and gently squirt some warm water with the help of the syringe in your ear.
- Do this a few times and then tilt your head in the opposite direction to let the water drain from your ear.
- Wipe your ear and pat dry it.
When to contact your doctor
If you get a blocked ear often, it is important to consult a doctor to know its cause.
Additionally, you must contact your doctor if:
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