What to do when your ear is clogged up?

What to Do When Your Ear Is Clogged Up?

You may find yourself struggling with clogged ears due to certain factors, such as allergies, sinus infections, earwax buildup, or even water getting trapped in the ear. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do on your own to help ease the discomfort caused by clogged ears.

1. Chew Gum

Chewing gum can help to alleviate pressure in the ears, and thus may help unclog them. When you chew gum, you increase the frequency of swallowing, which helps to move the Eustachian tube and equalizes air pressure in the ear canal.

2. Use a Warm Compress

Applying a warm compress to your ear can help to relieve pain and pressure caused by clogged ears. You can use a warm washcloth, heating pad or warm water bottle, but make sure it’s not too hot to avoid any burns. Hold it to the affected ear for about 5 to 10 minutes, and repeat as necessary.

3. Use Earwax Softeners

Earwax buildup can be a common cause of clogged ears. You can use over-the-counter earwax softeners to help dissolve the wax, making it easier to remove. Follow the instructions on the product carefully, and never use cotton swabs, which can push the wax further into your ear canal and cause more harm than good.

4. Try an OTC Decongestant

If your clogged ears are caused by allergies or sinus problems, an over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant may help to relieve your symptoms. Decongestants can help reduce inflammation and open up the nasal passages, thus allowing the air to flow through and unclog your ears. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging or consult with your doctor before use.

5. Use a Nasal Irrigation System

A nasal irrigation system, such as a Neti pot, can also help to relieve sinus congestion and unclog the ears. These systems work by flushing out excess mucus and allergens from your nasal passages, thereby reducing inflammation and pressure that may be causing your ear troubles.

6. Visit Your Doctor

If your clogged ears persist or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or severe pain, it’s best to consult with your doctor. They can perform a thorough examination of your ears and recommend the appropriate treatment based on the cause of your ear troubles.

What to Avoid When Your Ear Is Clogged Up?

1. Using Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs should never be used to remove earwax, as they can actually push the wax further into your ear canal, potentially causing damage or further blockage.

2. Loud Noises

Avoid exposure to loud noises, such as concerts or construction sites, as this can exacerbate your ear problems and cause further damage.

3. Flying

If you have a cold or congestion, it’s best to avoid flying as changes in air pressure can increase your ear troubles.

Prevention Tips for Clogged Ears

1. Keep Your Ears Dry

Avoid getting any water in your ears while bathing or swimming, as this can promote the growth of bacteria and lead to infections or irritation.

2. Practice Good Ear Hygiene

Clean your ears regularly, but gently, using a washcloth or towel to remove any excess wax or debris.

3. Wear Ear Protection

If you’re exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, be sure to wear ear protection, such as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, to prevent damage to your ears.

4. Get Treatment for Allergies or Sinus Problems

If you suffer from allergies or chronic sinus problems, seek treatment to help manage your symptoms and prevent ear troubles.

The Bottom Line

When your ears are clogged up, it can be uncomfortable and even painful. But with a few simple measures, such as using earwax softeners or nasal irrigation systems, you can help alleviate your symptoms and unclog your ears. Remember to always consult with your doctor if your ear troubles persist, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms, such as severe pain or fever.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • Q: Can clogged ears cause hearing loss?
  • A: Temporary hearing loss can occur with clogged ears, but it’s usually only temporary and will resolve itself once the underlying cause is treated. Long-term hearing loss is not usually associated with ear blockage.
  • Q: Can allergies cause clogged ears?
  • A: Yes, allergies can cause swelling and congestion in the nasal passages, which can lead to clogged ears.
  • Q: Is it safe to remove earwax at home?
  • A: While it’s safe to remove earwax at home in most cases, it’s important to avoid using cotton swabs, which can push the wax further into your ear canal and cause damage. Instead, use an earwax softener or see a doctor for professional removal.


  • American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. (2018). Earwax and Care. Retrieved from https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/earwax/
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019). Clogged ears: Causes, symptoms and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/earwax-blockage/symptoms-causes/syc-20353004
  • The Hearing Review. (2020). Earwax: A Review of Causes, Removal, and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.hearingreview.com/hearing-loss/related-article/earwax-a-review-of-causes-removal-and-prevention