Ear congestion is a blockage of the inner ear that causes a feeling of pressure, pain and temporary hearing loss. It can be the result of a sinus or ear infection, a cold or flu, trapped water or an allergy. Some simple home remedies may provide temporary relief for ear congestion, and over-the-counter or prescription medications can also help reduce your symptoms. Contact your doctor if the pain and pressure persists or worsens.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend applying a warm compress on the outside of a congested ear to help reduce inflammation. Cardiovascular exercise can also reduce sinus pressure and temporarily restore hearing. Vinegar ear drops may also be helpful, according to the book The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections, especially if the ear congestion is caused by water trapped in the ear rather than an infection. Place two to three drops of warm white vinegar into the affected ear and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Use a sanitary ear dropper to safely handle the ear drops, and do not let the dropper touch the skin.
Ear congestion can be caused by fluid build-up in your inner ear during a sinus or ear infection. Over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen can reduce inflammation in the ears, usually alleviating symptoms within 24 hours. If the congestion continues, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Amoxicillin is the standard antibiotic treatment for ear and sinus infections. Ear congestion is one of the signs of an allergy flare-up; if you suspect an allergy is causing your discomfort, an over-the-counter allergy medication is appropriate. These include antihistamines to soothe your overactive immune response, making your symptoms subside.
An herbal steam treatment is a natural remedy that can help relax blocked passages and ease your ear congestion. The book The Parent's Complete Guide to Ear Infections recommends half-filling a large pot with water and bringing it to a boil until it billows with steam. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in one tablespoon of peppermint oil or 1/3 cup of powdered ginger. Slowly breathe in the vapours. To maximise the treatment, place a towel over your head and drape it over the sides of the pot to trap the steam.