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How to get mucus out of your ear

Last update on Feb, 07, 2024

Mucus— sometimes known as postnasal drip. Most people have dealt with it at one time or another. It can cause a lot of discomfort and be incredibly frustrating when it lingers. Even worse is when this build-up of mucus travels to your ears, causing muffled and crackling hearing. Read on to learn more about causes, symptoms and treatments for postnasal drip or mucus. 

What is mucus?

If you’ve been experiencing ear blockage and difficulty in hearing or breathing, you might have catarrh. Catarrh is a build-up of thick phlegm or mucus, and it can cause pressure and discomfort in the face, sinuses and ears. It can also cause a person to have difficulty breathing or hearing. While this build-up of mucus often occurs in the throat, sinuses or back of the nose, mucus in the ears can also occur. Having build-up is certainly uncomfortable, but this article will help you learn how to get mucus out of the ear.

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What causes mucus in the ear?

When the lining of your nose swells up and increases the output of the nasal and sinus membranes where mucus is produced, it’s usually a signal that the body’s immune system is reacting to an infection or irritation. When catarrh affects the ears, it’s because phlegm or mucus is backed up in the ears—often in the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear and nasal-sinus cavities.

The mucus itself is often a result of infections, colds, allergies or environmental irritants. Other times, nasal polyps are to blame. In children, the mucus causes can also be something they’ve stuck in their nose, which triggers irritation and mucus production. 

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How does mucus affect ears?

It can be a miserable experience to have mucus that affects the ears. Symptoms include:

What symptoms are related to mucus in ears?

This condition can have a range of unpleasant effects, and those who are suffering from catarrh usually feel unwell. Common mucus symptoms include:

Chronic mucus and blocked ears

If these symptoms persist for a long period of time, you may have chronic mucus. Let your doctor know what’s happening, especially if your symptoms have been going on for months or if they interfere with your life. Seek medical attention immediately if you develop severe symptoms such as unexplained high fever, wheezing and bloody or foul-smelling mucus.

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How to drain mucus from ears

Even though a person normally produces 1 to 1.5 liters of mucus daily, having catarrh can increase that amount. Catarrh treatment to reduce mucus production and provide relief includes a number of different approaches. When you’re wondering how to get rid of mucus from the ear, try home remedies like those listed below or schedule an appointment with your medical healthcare provider. 

In most cases, mucus treatment includes time-tested home remedies, such as:

  • Rinsing the nose with salt water
  • Increasing water intake
  • Using an indoor humidifier
  • Sitting in a steamy shower
  • Gargling with warm salt water

Effective mucus treatment also includes avoiding known allergens, dry air and smoky places.

If home treatments don’t help, you may want to see your medical healthcare provider. A medical doctor can prescribe a catarrh treatment like ipratropium (Atrovent), a nasal spray that reduces the amount of mucus the body makes. Other prescriptions often used to treat catarrh include beclomethasone (Beconase) and triamcinolone (Nasacort), which are steroid sprays. If it’s determined that your mucus is caused by nasal polyps, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.

Even though it may provide temporary relief, constantly clearing your throat may worsen the condition rather than being an effective catarrh treatment. Instead, drink cold water when your throat feels clogged. 

Can mucus in ears be prevented?

You can take proactive steps toward catarrh prevention. Keep your living and sleeping areas warm and moist, and consider running a humidifier to reduce the irritating effects of dry air. Above all, prevent infections by practicing good hygiene and clearing out allergens with frequent vacuuming, dusting and laundering of bed linens

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