How to unclog your ears when congested

Updated April 17, 2017

When you feel congested due to a cold or the flu, the eustachian tubes in your ears also become congested and can close, giving you the feeling of a clogged ear. You can get this same feeling with sudden changes of elevation and air pressure, such as in an aeroplane or riding in an elevator. There are several ways to unclog your ears.

Take a decongestant medicine that contains pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, which will relieve some swelling in the eustachian tubes. This will let more air through and help relieve pressure issues. Steroid nasal sprays, including Flonase and Nasonex, can also help reduce ear tube swelling.

Pinch your nostrils with your thumb and forefinger. Gently blow throw your nose to increase pressure. Do not blow hard, because you could damage your ears.

Move your jaw from side to side and stretch your neck while continuing to perform Step 2. If your ears have not popped at this point, continue to Step 4.

Put your lower jaw in front of your upper jaw. Pinch your nostrils and gently blow. When you feel pressure building up, swallow.

Things You'll Need

  • Decongestant medicine and/or nasal steroid spray
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About the Author

Vanessa Padgalskas was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and currently resides in Portland, Ore. Padgalskas graduated from American University in 2007 with degrees in international studies and economics. She holds a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.