How to clear a eustachian tube blockage

This article was co-authored by Payam Daneshrad, MD. Dr. Payam Daneshrad is a board certified Otolaryngologist, a board eligible Facial Plastic Surgeon, and the Owner and Director of DaneshradClinic in Los Angeles, California. With over 19 years of experience, Dr. Daneshrad specializes in adult and pediatric Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, packing-less nasal surgery, minimally invasive sinus surgery, and snoring treatment. He also uses the newest surgical ENT techniques for tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, thyroidectomy, and parathyroidectomy. Dr. Daneshrad graduated with a BS and the highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Tulane University School of Medicine, where he was accepted into the AOA, the medical honor’s society, and the Tulane University School of Public Health. Dr. Daneshrad received his medical training from the University of Southern California, where he currently serves as an Associate Clinical Professor. Dr. Daneshrad is the Otolaryngologist and Facial Plastic Surgeon for the Los Angeles Sparks and the athletic teams of Loyola Marymount University.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 50 testimonials and 87% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

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The Eustachian tubes are small passages in the head that connect the ears to the back of the nostrils. [1] X Research source These tubes can become clogged due to colds and allergies. Serious cases need expert medical attention from an ear, nose, and throat doctor. However, you can treat mild to moderate cases on your own with home remedies, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription solutions.

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Difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears from impacted earwax or fluid can be an annoying problem. Ear clogging is common with colds, allergies and sinusitis. The inner ear or eustachian tube will eventually unclog on its own. But for fast relief, you might consider employing a few natural remedies or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to help irrigate the ears quickly and restore hearing.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Soften earwax with OTC ear cleaners. Apply a few drops (as directed) to both ears to help soften and remove wax and unclog the inner ear.

How to Relieve Pressure in the Ears From Sinus Drainage

Loosen mucus in the inner ear 1. Excess mucus from allergies, colds and sinus problems can become lodged in the inner ear and block hearing. Take OTC decongestants to help get rid of mucus and unclog ears.

Put something hot against your ear to relieve congestion. Run a cloth under hot water and rest the wet cloth on the clogged ear. Steam from a shower or sauna is another effective remedy for unclogging the inner ear or eustachian tube.

How to Clear Fluid From the Ears

Expel mucus through the nose. Blow your nose repeatedly to help loosen and remove mucus trapped in the inner ear.

Keep gum in your mouth. Chew a stick of sugarless gum t0o help pop and unclog the inner ear.

Lean your head to the side. Fluid can stay in the inner ear after swimming. Lie on your side to promote drainage and unclog the ear. Switch to the other side after a few minutes.

Warnings

See a doctor if an earache accompanies a clogged ear, or if congestion persists for longer than 48 hours.

There are several techniques you can try to unclog or pop your ears:

  1. Swallowing. When you swallow, your muscles automatically work to open the Eustachian tube.
  2. Yawning.
  3. Valsalva maneuver.
  4. Toynbee maneuver.
  5. Applying a warm washcloth.
  6. Nasal decongestants.
  7. Nasal corticosteroids.
  8. Ventilation tubes.

How long does it take for Aqua ear to work?

Once I start using the eardrops how long should it take until I feel better? Most people feel better within 48 to 72 hours and have minimal or no symptoms by 7 days. Notify your doctor if your pain or other symptoms fail to respond within this time frame.

Why does my ear feel clogged and hurt?

When the Eustachian tube becomes clogged, you feel fullness and pressure in your ear. You might also experience muffled hearing and ear pain. These ear congestion symptoms can also be caused by problems in your middle ear or the ear canal that affects the eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane).

Will ear wax go away on its own?

Often the earwax goes away on its own with time. In rare cases, removing earwax can cause problems. Providers may advise removal for people who can’t talk about their symptoms, such as young children.

What does healthy ear wax look like?

Light brown, orange or yellow earwax is healthy and normal. Children tend to have softer, lighter-colored earwax. White, flaky earwax indicates you lack a body-odor producing chemical. Dark-colored, sticky earwax indicates you should probably use deodorant.

Why is there black stuff in my ear?

Dark or black earwax isn’t a sign you have poor hygiene or that you’re not clean. It is, however, a sign you should clean your ear canals of earwax buildup and possibly see your doctor. Black earwax may be an indication you have a wax buildup. Your ears may not naturally clean themselves the way they should.

Why do Q tips feel so good?

The Vagus nerve—a branchlike structure that runs from your brain to your butt—can be stimulated via the ear, Dr. Pross says. This may play a small role in that pleasurable sensation you feel from the Q-tip, he says.

Andrew

Andrey is a coach, sports writer and editor. He is mainly involved in weightlifting. He also edits and writes articles for the IronSet blog where he shares his experiences. Andrey knows everything from warm-up to hard workout.

This article was co-authored by Payam Daneshrad, MD. Dr. Payam Daneshrad is a board certified Otolaryngologist, a board eligible Facial Plastic Surgeon, and the Owner and Director of DaneshradClinic in Los Angeles, California. With over 19 years of experience, Dr. Daneshrad specializes in adult and pediatric Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, packing-less nasal surgery, minimally invasive sinus surgery, and snoring treatment. He also uses the newest surgical ENT techniques for tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, thyroidectomy, and parathyroidectomy. Dr. Daneshrad graduated with a BS and the highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Tulane University School of Medicine, where he was accepted into the AOA, the medical honor’s society, and the Tulane University School of Public Health. Dr. Daneshrad received his medical training from the University of Southern California, where he currently serves as an Associate Clinical Professor. Dr. Daneshrad is the Otolaryngologist and Facial Plastic Surgeon for the Los Angeles Sparks and the athletic teams of Loyola Marymount University.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 50 testimonials and 87% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 4,176,001 times.

The Eustachian tubes are small passages in the head that connect the ears to the back of the nostrils. [1] X Research source These tubes can become clogged due to colds and allergies. Serious cases need expert medical attention from an ear, nose, and throat doctor. However, you can treat mild to moderate cases on your own with home remedies, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription solutions.

The eustachian (say “you-STAY-shee-un”) tubes connect the middle ears to the back of the throat. The tubes help the ears drain fluid. They also keep air pressure in the ears at the right level.

When you swallow or yawn, the tubes open briefly to let air in to make the pressure in the middle ears equal to the pressure outside of the ears. Sometimes fluid or negative pressure gets stuck in the middle ear. The pressure outside the ear gets too high. This causes ear pain and sometimes trouble hearing.

See a picture of the eustachian tube .

What causes blocked eustachian tubes?

Swelling from a cold, allergies, or a sinus infection can keep the eustachian tubes from opening. This leads to pressure changes. Fluid may collect in the middle ear. The pressure and fluid can cause pain. You also can have ear pain from changes in pressure while you are flying in an airplane, driving up or down mountains, or scuba diving. Fluid in the ear can lead to an infection ( acute otitis media ). Young children have a high risk of ear infections, because their eustachian tubes are shorter and more easily blocked than the tubes in older children and adults.

What are the symptoms?

Blocked eustachian tubes can cause several symptoms, including:

  • Ears that hurt and feel full.
  • Ringing or popping noises in your ears.
  • Hearing problems.
  • Feeling a little dizzy.

How are blocked tubes diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. He or she will look in your ears. The doctor also may check how well you hear.

How are they treated?

Blocked eustachian tubes often get better on their own. You may be able to open the blocked tubes with a simple exercise. Close your mouth, hold your nose, and gently blow as if you are blowing your nose. Yawning and chewing gum also may help. You may hear or feel a “pop” when the tubes open to make the pressure equal between the inside and outside of your ears.

If you can’t open the tubes, your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter pain medicine. If you have allergies, the doctor may prescribe a steroid medicine that you spray into your nose. Decongestants that you take by mouth or spray into your nose may be helpful. You may need antibiotics if you have an ear infection.

A warm washcloth or a heating pad set on low can help with ear pain. Put a cloth between the heating pad and your skin so you don’t burn your skin. Do not use a heating pad with children.

In some cases, people need surgery for a blocked eustachian tube. The doctor makes a small cut in the eardrum to drain fluid and to make the pressure the same inside and outside the ear. Sometimes the doctor will put a small tube in the eardrum . The tube will fall out over time.

How can you keep your eustachian tubes from getting blocked?

If you have allergies, talk to your doctor about how to treat them so your sinuses stay clear and your eustachian tubes stay open.

When you are in an airplane, you can chew gum, yawn, or drink liquids during takeoff and landing. Try the exercise where you gently blow while holding your nose shut.

The Eustachian tubes are the tubes that connect the front wall of the middle ears to the nasal passages at the back of the throat. These tubes are responsible for draining fluid from the ears and for maintaining the balance of air pressure between the inner and outer ears. A blocked Eustachian tube may be due to a number of reasons such as a cold, an infection, allergies or a build up of earwax. Some of the best ways to open or unclog a blocked Eustachian tube are to clear the blocked earwax, remove the pus that may have built up due to an infection or unclog the ears using the finger sweep method.

Causes:

  • Inflammation caused by a cold or allergy that may prevent the Eustachian tubes from opening
  • Sinus infection
  • Build up of ear wax
  • Collection of fluid in the middle ear that can lead to ear infections (acute otitis media)
  • High altitudes or changes in air pressure as experienced when flying, traveling up and down mountains, or deep sea diving

Home Remedies:

  • Try a warm compress against the ear to reduce swelling and pain. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water and place this on the affected area to decrease any inflammation. You could also place a heating pad on the ear but remember to put a cloth between the skin and the pad so that it does not cause any burns. Young children should not use a heating pad as they may not be able to decide when it is getting too hot. This could result in more harm than good.
  • A warm bag of salt placed against the ear may also help reduce swelling and pain.
  • An ancient remedy for ear pain and blocked Eustachian tubes is the practice of nasal irrigation using a neti pot. A neti pot is a specially designed pot that can be bought from your drugstore or health store. A popular practice in yoga, it is believed that the regular use of neti pots help clean the deep inner sinuses and prevent the development of respiratory problems and ear infections. If you have never used a neti pot before, it is better to do so under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor. There are also a number of videos available online with instruction on how to proceed. You could use plain tap water or a salt water to rinse the nasal passages.
  • Another way to treat blocked Eustachian tubes is to boil and cool water before mixing in an equal amount of hydrogen peroxide. Fill this solution into an ear syringe and insert into your ear while lying on the side. Let your head remain to the side for around 30 seconds before the hydrogen peroxide is poured out of your ears. You should do this once a day.
  • You could also pick up a home wax removal kit that you could get at the local drug store and also plastic plungers and saline ear cleaners.
  • You should also avoid using cotton swabs inside your ear as they will cause the buildup of wax near the eardrum.
  • Putting some coconut oil into your ears before sleeping is also considered to be an effective method on how to clear a blocked ear.

Treatment:

In most cases, blocked Eustachian tubes clear up in time without any treatment. If the pain or the pressure is too much to bear, you could try yawning or chewing gum to alleviate the symptoms. Another way to reduce pressure in the ears is to perform the Valsalva maneuver. You do this by holding your nose and keeping your mouth closed. You then blow gently through the closed nose and you should feel your ears ‘pop.’ Do not blow too hard as you may risk harming the eardrum. If these methods do not help, your doctor can recommend different types of treatment to get rid of the problem.

How to get rid of blocked Eustachian tubes

  • Over the counter painkillers can help reduce pain felt due to clogged ears.
  • Nasal decongestants that can be taken orally or through a spray may help unclog ears.
  • If the cause of the blockage is an ear infection, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • Children with persistent ear infections may benefit from anesthetic eardrops to relieve pain. However, never administer any eardrops without checking with your doctor first as permanent damage may be caused if there is a rupture in the eardrum and eardrops are used.
  • If allergies are the reason behind the blocked Eustachian tubes, steroid nasal sprays may help alleviate symptoms.
  • If you suffer from chronic clogged ears, surgery (myringotomy) may be needed to treat blocked Eustachian tubes. This involves the surgeon making a small incision in the eardrum in order to drain the excess fluid and balance out the pressure between the inner and outer ear.
  • In some cases, after a myringotomy, the surgeon may insert a small plastic or metal tube into the opening of the eardrum. These pressure equalization tubes allow fluid to drain and can provide relief from clogged or full ears for up to 12 months or longer.

If the ear blockage is due to sinusitis, remember not to blow the nose too hard. Also, while blowing the nose, keep the mouth open. Impacted ear wax can be softened by taking a hot shower for about 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will help to loosen the wax. You can also add a couple of drops of glycerin to obtain relief from ear blockage. Remember never to use sharp instruments to loosen ear wax as these can cause severe damage to the ear drum. However remember that the ear is a delicate organ and therefore it would be beneficial to allow a professional to clean your ears well.

Our ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists offer a wide range of treatment options for eustachian tube dysfunction. Treatments range from nasal decongestants to surgery. We work with you to determine the most effective treatment plan that will offer a successful long-term outcome.

Eustachian tube dysfunction: Treating allergies and nasal decongestion

Identifying and treating nasal allergies may help to reduce the swelling in the lining of the eustachian tube. There are a number of different ways we can treat allergies, and we will discuss the options with you:

  • Identifying the particular allergen you are sensitive to and eliminating it from the environment
  • Giving allergy shots, though it may take a long time to notice beneficial effects
  • Giving intranasal steroids to reduce inflammation of the mucosal lining of the nose. We usually recommend a two-week trial to see if the medication is helpful.
  • Prescribing decongestants, which constrict blood vessels and help open the eustachian tube by reducing swelling of the lining of the nose. These medications work immediately and can be taken as needed. Keep in mind that:
    • Oral medications work for about four hours and should not be used around bedtime because they may make it difficult to get to sleep.
    • Nasal spray preparations work well and directly decongest the nose; however, because the body rapidly gets used to the medication, they should only be used for up to three days in a row.
    • Antihistamines work to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to allergens. These medications may be helpful for some patients and can be taken as needed.

    Self-inflation of the ears to treat eustachian tube dysfunction

    You may be able to improve your symptoms pinching your nose closed and “popping” your ear. This helps by forcibly air through the eustachian tube into the middle ear. You can also achieve the same effect by blowing up balloons. The pressure required to expand a balloon is usually enough to push air up the eustachian tube.

    This is a very useful maneuver and may be repeated as often as necessary, whenever a sense of pressure or fullness in the ear develops. Do not perform this when you have a cold or any nasal discharge because it may drive infected mucous into the middle ear and cause an ear infection.

    Surgical treatment for eustachian tube dysfunction

    The primary goal of surgical treatment is to bypass the eustachian tube in order to ventilate the middle ear. Surgery can restore hearing, relieve pressure sensation in the ear and reduce the tendency for middle ear infections.

    Types of surgery include:

    Myringotomy – We make a tiny incision in the eardrum and suction out any fluid in the middle ear. In adults, the incision often stays open long enough to allow the swelling in the Eustachian tube lining to resolve. After the eardrum heals (usually within one to three days), fluid in the middle ear fluid may begin to re-accumulate if the Eustachian tube lining has not recovered.

    Pressure equalization tubes – During this procedure we will:

    1. Make an incision in the eardrum and suction out any middle ear fluid
    2. Insert a tiny hollow tube made of plastic or metal into the eardrum

    Over time, the tube is pushed out as the eardrum heals. A pressure equalization tube usually provides middle ear ventilation for six to 12 months. Often, the eustachian tube will have recovered by this time, and we will not need to replace the tubes. If you have a more chronic condition, however, we can use longer lasting tubes. In adults, the procedure takes about five minutes and can be performed in the office using a topical anesthetic. In children, we will use a light general anesthetic.

    Caring for pressure equalization tubes

    It is important to keep water out of your ears when you have pressure equalization tubes. This means:

    • Using earplugs or a cotton ball smothered in petroleum jelly while bathing
    • Wearing custom earplugs fit to your ear when going swimming

    Water that gets into the ear canal can carry bacteria through the tube into the middle ear space and cause an ear infection. This is called a purulent drainage (white, green or yellow pus) from the ear. We treat this type of ear infection with antibiotic eardrops.

    The other risk of either a myringotomy or a pressure equalization tube is that the incision may not heal. This may eventually require surgery (tympanoplasty) to patch the hole.

    after (i’m sorry but only) 2 weeks of prodding and poking and putting oil in and using every ear product under the sun except for the ear candles (cos I burnt myself last time) I am pleased to say I have sorted my ear.

    After the doctor said there was nothing wrong with either ear I eventually came online and did a self diagnosis. I was suspecting that the problem was on the other side of my ear drum so a eustachian tube blockage made sense.

    I felt like I had asparagus growing in one ear and had tinnitus of varying degrees and pitches.

    Like the rest of you it was making me miserable, grumpy and it was hard to work and focus.

    Yesterday my Osteopathic colleague worked on me and released tight neck muscles and scalp muscles.

    This morning I woke up and the deafness and tinnitus was really bad.

    Now, before I tell you what I did .. here is the theory.

    The deafness and tinnitus is caused by gunk covering the inside of the ear drum. prodding, poking and closing the nose and blowing pushes the gunk upwards which clears the eardrum for a short time then the gunk comes down again. The gunk has to come out DOWNWARDS. How to we get the gunk to come out downwards? By breathing in. Breathing in takes air down to the lungs which will produce suction in the eustachian tube.

    So what I did in bed was to lie on the side of the good ear.

    I then closed the nostril with my finger on the good side only and breathed in through the nostril on the bad side. I then closed the nostril on the bad side and breathed out through the nostril on the good side. I repeated this several times and just knew it was going to work. I’m sure doing the same practise upright should work just as well.

    It wasnt totally better immediately but I sensed an improvement. Now having been to work and been out in the cold I can tell you it is better. No more asparagus in my ear.

    So, blowing the nose is not a good idea. It makes things worse. When having to blow the nose try to do it gently and aim the air out of the good ear .. if you have one.

    If you have ear wax, the procedure I prescribed could make this worse as it will be sucking the wax onto the outside of the eardrum.

    I am now taking garlic tablets to reduce the catarrh and echinacea and golden seal tincture to clear infection and catarrh.

    The procedure is described as a pranayama technique in yoga and is called Surya Bhedana when breathing in through the right nostril and Chandra bhedana when breathing in through the left nostril

    The book \"Light on Pranayama\" by BKS Iyengar says that the effects of this technique are:

    It soothes and invigorates the nerves and cleanses the sinuses. It is good for persons suffering from low blood pressure.

    It also says never perform Surya Bedhana and Chandra bhedana on the same day.

    To clear eustachian tube of bad ear

    Close nostril with finger on side of good ear

    Breathe in through nostril on side of bad ear

    Close nostril with finger on side of bad ear

    Breathe out through nostril on side of good ear

    Repeat, always breathing in on bad ear side and out through good ear side.

    If both sides are blocked I’m not sure what to recommend but I’m sure understanding that the stuff needs to be sucked down using the in breath you will be able to work something out.

    Now, to monitor progress I used my sound healing experience. I covered my good ear and made an oooooooooooooo sound. The oooooo resonated really well in my good ear.

    I then tried the same in my bad ear. No resonance at all.

    After the clearing procedure, even though I still felt my ear was blocked the resonance was much improved so I knew things were changing.

    It may return, but I am so clear that the theory is correct I know I will be able to deal with it.