How to Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube

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How to Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube
How to Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube

The Eustachian tubes are small channels in the head that connect the ears to the back of the nostrils. Sometimes these channels can become clogged with colds and allergies. More severe cases may require specialized medical attention from an otolaryngologist. Still, it is possible to treat mild to moderate cases on your own with home remedies and prescription or over-the-counter medications.


Method 1 of 2: Treating Hearing Congestion at Home

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 1

Step 1. Recognize the symptoms

Whether it's a cold, allergies or infections, the resulting swelling will make it difficult for the Eustachian tubes to open, preventing the passage of air. This results in pressure changes and, in some cases, fluid accumulation in the ear. When this happens, you will have the following symptoms:

  • Ear pain or a “filling” sensation in the ear.
  • Buzzing or popping sounds and sensations that do not come from the external environment.
  • Children may describe the sensation as "tickle".
  • Problems to hear clearly.
  • Vertigo and trouble keeping balance.
  • Symptoms can worsen with sudden variations in altitude - for example, when flying, when using an elevator, when climbing or driving in mountainous regions, etc.
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Step 2. Move the jaw

This simple gesture represents the first technique of the Edmonds maneuver. Just project your jaw and move it back and forth, side to side. If the auditory obstruction is moderate, this action will open the Eustachian tubes and restore normal airflow.

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 3

Step 3. Perform the Valsalva maneuver

This maneuver, which attempts to force the passage of air through the obstructed passage and re-establish the air flow, must always be performed carefully. The sudden passage of air when releasing the nostrils can cause a rapid change in blood pressure and heart rate.

  • Take a deep breath and hold your breath, closing your mouth and covering your nostrils.
  • Try to force the passage of air through closed nostrils.
  • If the maneuver is performed well, you will hear a popping in your ears and notice a relief of symptoms.
Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 4

Step 4. Try the Toynbee maneuver

Like the Valsalva maneuver, the Toynbee maneuver was designed to open blocked Eustachian tubes. However, instead of having the patient manipulate the air pressure through the breath, it depends on the pressure existing in the act of swallowing. To perform it:

  • Clip your nose.
  • Drink a sip of water.
  • Swallow.
  • Repeat this procedure until you hear a pop in your ears and open the channels.
Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 5

Step 5. Inflate a balloon with your nose

It may sound silly and uncomfortable, but this action, called the Otovent maneuver, can be effective in equalizing the air pressure in your ears. Purchase an “Otovent” balloon online or at a medical supply store. This is a normal balloon, but with a tip that fits into the nostril. If you have a spout or funnel that fits both your nostril and a regular balloon, you can make your own at home.

  • Insert the beak into one nostril and close the other with a finger.
  • Try to inflate the balloon with that single nostril until it is the size of a fist.
  • Repeat the procedure with the other nostril until you hear the “snap”, which indicates the flow of air released into the Eustachian tubes.
Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 6

Step 6. Swallow with your nose covered

This procedure is called the Lowery maneuver and is a little more difficult than it looks. Before swallowing, you must build up air pressure in the body, pushing downward as you do during defecation. As you hold your breath and hold your nose, it will look like you are trying to get air through all the clogged orifices. Some people have difficulty swallowing under these circumstances due to increased air pressure in the body. Be patient and persevere. With enough practice, this maneuver can open your ears again.

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 7

Step 7. Place a warm bag or warm cloth over your ear

This can either relieve the present pain or treat the obstruction itself. The gentle heat of a warm compress can help treat congestion by unclogging the Eustachian tubes. If you want to use a hot bag, remember to put a cloth between it and your skin so you don't burn yourself.

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Step 8. Use nasal decongestants

Ear drops may not be enough to clear the congestion as the ears are clogged. As there is a connection between the ears and the nasal canal through tubes, a nasal spray can be an effective way to treat obstruction of the Eustachian tubes. Insert the bottle into the nostril at an inclined angle, facing the back of the throat, almost perpendicular to the face. Inhale as you apply the decongestant with enough force to draw the fluid to the back of your throat, but not enough to swallow it or put it in your mouth.

Try one of the tricks described above after using the decongestant. They can be more effective at this point

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 9

Step 9. Take antihistamines if your problem is caused by allergies

Although antihistamines are not usually the primary treatment method for blockage of the Eustachian tubes, they can alleviate congestion due to allergies. See your doctor and find out whether or not this is an option for you.

Note that, in general, antihistamines are not recommended for people with ear infections

Method 2 of 2: Seeking Medical Attention

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 10

Step 1. Ask for prescribed nasal sprays

While it is possible to use common over-the-counter nasal sprays, you may be more successful with prescription decongestants. If you suffer from allergies, ask your doctor if he or she recommends a steroid or antihistamine in nasal spray form to help resolve the problem.

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 11

Step 2. Take antibiotics if you have an ear infection

Although obstruction of the Eustachian tubes is usually short and harmless, it can result in uncomfortable and painful infections. If the blockage reaches this level, contact a medical professional and ask for a prescription for antibiotics. Your doctor may prefer not to prescribe anything unless you have a fever of 39°C or higher for more than 48 hours.

Follow the precise instructions regarding the dosage of antibiotics. Complete the course of treatment, even if symptoms seem to resolve before the end

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 12

Step 3. Talk to your doctor regarding a myringotomy

In severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgical treatment to restore airflow to the middle ear. There are two types of surgery, with myringotomy being the quickest option. The doctor will make a small incision in the eardrum and suck out all the fluid trapped inside the middle ear. It may seem contradictory, but it is important that this incision heals slowly. If the cut is left open long enough, the swelling of the Eustachian tube will return to normal. If healing is very fast (within three days), fluid can build up again in the middle ear, and symptoms will persist.

Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 13

Step 4. Consider getting pressure leveling tubes

This surgical method has a higher probability of success, but it is a long and tiring process. As with myringotomy, the doctor will make an incision in the eardrum and suck out the fluid accumulated in the inner space. He will then insert a small tube into the eardrum to ventilate the middle ear. As the eardrum heals, the tube will push out on its own, which can take anywhere from six months to a year. This method is recommended for patients with a chronic problem of obstruction in the Eustachian tubes. So please discuss it carefully with your doctor.

  • You must protect the ears completely from water while the leveling tubes are inserted. Put on earplugs or cotton balls while bathing and wear special ear plugs when swimming.
  • If any water passes through the tube into the middle ear, it can cause an infection.
Unclog the Inner Ear or Eustachian Tube Step 14

Step 5. Address the underlying problem

Clogged Eustachian tubes are usually the result of some type of illness that increases mucus production and swells tissues, obstructing the normal airflow. The most common causes of mucus buildup and tissue swelling in this region are colds, flu, sinus infections, and allergies. Don't let these problems get out of hand and progress to the inner ear. Seek treatment for colds and flu as soon as symptoms develop, and talk to your doctor about ongoing treatments for recurring conditions such as sinus infections and allergies.


  • If you know you have fluid in your ears, don't use wax removers. They can cause infections and there is no need for them as they are not wax but fluid.
  • Do not lie on your stomach with an earache.
  • Instead of using cold water, try drinking something hot, such as tea.
  • Try dissolving some papaya capsules (chewable) in your mouth. Papain, the main ingredient in green papaya, is excellent for dissolving mucus. Also try the fenugreek.
  • Use an extra pillow to elevate your head. This will help to drain fluids and relieve discomfort during sleep.
  • For pain from obstructed hearing, ask your doctor to prescribe pain relief drops. You can also try over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium to relieve pain.
  • In cold weather, wear a cap or hat that covers your ears to keep your ears and head warm. This helps to drain the fluid while you do other activities.


  • Do not use an over-the-counter nasal spray for more than a few days, or it may cause more congestion than it relieves. If the spray is not effective, consult your doctor.
  • Avoid washing your ears with a neti pot or using ear candles. These products have not been officially identified as safe methods of treatment for auditory obstruction.
  • Do not dive while there are pressure leveling problems in the Eustachian tubes. Doing so can cause painful “squeezing” sensations in the ears due to pressure imbalances.

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