How to Remove Ear Mucus Accumulation - Step To Health

How to Remove Ear Mucus Accumulation

Ear mucus accumulation is a common problem among children and can even affect hearing. Continue reading to find out about some methods to reduce it.
How to Remove Ear Mucus Accumulation

Last update: 17 October, 2021

Ear mucus accumulation is a self-defense mechanism against an infection that settles in the auditory system — the body produces a lot of it. It’s common among children, usually after a common cold.

The technical name for this condition is seromucous otitis or serous otitis media. Its frequency means any general practitioner or pediatrician can diagnose it without having to consult an otolaryngologist.

The middle ear is the structure with the most symptoms. This is because the infection reaches this central area of the auditory system and settles by colonizing the inner part with bacteria or viruses. It’s a small structure and, therefore, the mucus accumulates quickly there. It happens when the white blood cells begin to fight the infection.

Sometimes the mucus isn’t the result of viruses or bacteria but of an allergic reaction or the bad positioning of the Eustachian tube from birth. As you may already know, this structure is a tube that connects the middle ear to the pharynx and equalizes pressures between the cavities.

More than half of otitis media cases resolve on their own. However, ear mucus accumulation can be bothersome for a longer period of time. There are a number of techniques one can apply to treat it, as well as adjuvant medications.

Symptoms of otitis media

A child with ear mucus accumulation due to otitis media will experience pain. Moreover, babies and infants, as they lack verbal expression, will manifest it via continuous crying that increases if you press the external part of their ear.

Consequently, there may be hearing loss if the mucus blocks the eardrum since the tympanic membrane needs to be free to transmit sound. The loss is momentary and may even be intermittent for the duration of the process.

The auditory system is related to balance and its malfunction has repercussions on posture and may cause imbalance, nausea, and vertigo. Fainting and vomiting are rare but could happen in extreme cases.

Doctors diagnose ear mucus accumulation by examining the ear canal with an otoscope to see the eardrum. Thus, a swollen, discolored, and bulging eardrum might reveal excess mucus behind it.

A baby crying.
Continuous crying in infants may be due to otitis media.

Check out these Five Recommendations to Remove Earwax

Techniques to remove ear mucus accumulation

There are three homemade methods we can apply to remove ear mucus. Of course, this is only an adjuvant to the treatment suggested by the doctor for otitis media.

Alternate positions

Changing the position of the head will help the accumulated mucus in the middle ear flow out. You want to force the mucus through the Eustachian tube by means of gravity so that it falls into the pharynx and expel it from there.

No one position is 100% effective. You should tilt the head to one side, then slowly to the other, and repeat. At bedtime, it’s best to do it on the ear that’s not plugged, so as to increase the effect of gravity on the other ear.

Use steam

The ear mucus in otitis media is the result of colds and a stuffy nose, especially in children. This is why a vaporizer is useful in these cases.

The steam must be directed to the upper respiratory tract, not to the ear. The aim is to bring heat to the mucous membranes so that the stored mucus softens and becomes fluid. It’ll be easier to expel it.

Children mustn’t be left alone during the steam treatment. Even mild heat could burn the skin and mucous membranes. There should always be an adult supervising the technique.

Salty water

A simple saline solution, consisting of water with diluted salt, has always been used to clear a stuffy nose. This technique is useful to clear the upper airways, just like steam.

This is because salt drags out the mucus by osmotic pressure. This happens because the sodium contained in the solution is related to all water molecules and, therefore, the water part of the mucus bonds with the salt and exits the body.

A woman with an earache.
The symptoms of ear mucus accumulation are annoying and can become persistent.

Medications for ear mucus accumulation

The techniques mentioned above to eliminate ear mucus are only adjuvant. A health professional will prescribe the appropriate drugs for otitis media. It’s important not to self-medicate when faced with the symptoms of ear plugging and hearing loss.

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  • Del Castillo Martín, F., et al. “Documento de consenso sobre etiología, diagnóstico y tratamiento de la otitis media aguda.” Anales de Pediatría. Vol. 77. No. 5. Elsevier Doyma, 2012.
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  • Giese, Arnaud PJ, et al. “Genomics of Otitis media (OM): molecular genetics approaches to characterize disease pathophysiology.” Frontiers in Genetics 11 (2020).