Ear Congestion – How To Ease Congested Ears Safely

Ear congestion is a common problem that can vary in severity from a minor discomfort that resolves within a few days to a very painful ear ache that requires medical treatment.  Most people will have suffered from this condition to one extent or other at some time in their life.

Congestion in the ears could be a side effect or symptom of another ailment such as a cold or allergy to which the body reacts and results in an over-production of mucus which then builds up in the head and the ears. It could also be a result of a temporary set of circumstances such as when you a travelling by air when there is a pressure change in the aircraft cabin.

The most common symptoms of ear congestion include: slight dizziness, perhaps with a headache; slight or sometimes more severe loss of hearing; ringing in the ears (which is known as tinnitus); nausea; inner ear pain caused by pressure build up in the ears and possibly fever (if the congestion is caused by another ailment).

Ear Congestion Treatment

Treatment of ear congestion will depend on what has caused it and how severe it is.  In quite a high percentage of cases no treatment is required.  In many cases the congestion is mild and only lasts a few days, maybe after having a cold, and the symptoms will disappear within a day or two.

However, if the condition is causing discomfort or pain the following tips and treatments may work for you.

  • Gently clean out your ears with a cotton swab without allowing the swab to go too deeply into the ear which will cause further discomfort or even damage.
  • You may find that yawing or opening and closing your mouth may help to loosen the mucus in the ear.
  • Chewing chum or sucking on a hard candy may also loosen the mucus and relieve ear congestion.
  • You could try holding your nose with your mouth shut while trying to breathe out. This may ‘pop’ your ears and alleviate the clogged ears.
  • Moisture or steam will thin the mucus and clear out the congestion of the ear. Whether the problem is due to sinus blockage or chest congestion taking a sauna, hot shower or using a humidifier to add moisture to the air may help to unlock the ear.
  •  You could try leaning over a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head to prevent the steam escaping.  Breathing in the steam will loosen the mucus which you can then cough up and spit out into separate bowl.

These are essentially home remedies for ear congestion and will help you in mild cases.  However if the congestion is more severe it may be necessary for you to take medication of seek medical advice.  If this is the case then you should try to following courses of action:

  • Decongestant medication bought over the counter can help to reduce or eliminate congestion in the ears by softening the mucus and allowing it to drain.
  • Take antihistamine tables, which also can be bought over the counter, for a few days if you think the ear congestion is caused by an allergy.
  • Take pain killers if the ear congestion is causing mild to moderate pain to achieve ear pain relief.
  • If there is fever and more severe pain it would be best to consult your doctor for diagnoses and treatment of whatever underlying ailment is causing the condition. It may be necessary for the doctor to prescribe antibiotics.

It should be noted that if the congestion in the ear is due to earwax then an earwax remover from the pharmacy should be used.  You must ensure that you follow the instructions on the package.  If you are not sure about doing this yourself contact you medical practitioner who will carry this out for you or arrange for the practice nurse to remove the earwax.


At the first warning signs of head congestion follow one of the home remedies or take a decongestant medicine to help rid the sinuses, throat and ear of any build up of mucus and prevent the onset of congestion in the ear.


You should seek medical advice if the symptoms continue for more than one week. It may be that the congestion could cause an infection of the inner ear which could spread to the sinuses and chest.

If the cause of the problem and pain is not clear then it may be necessary for an ear specialist to assess the condition.  Any treatment will depend on what underlying cause of the congestion is found. I hope you know have a better understanding of the causes and symptoms of ear congestion and the best treatment options.