September 20th, 2010
11:56 AM ET

How do I drain my ears?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Monday, it's Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician.

Question asked by Becky M. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: After taking antibiotics for a sinus infection or ear infection, what is the best way to help encourage drainage of the middle ear or eustachian tube?

I have seen many remedies online, some of which recommend using a neti pot, but I feared making the situation worse. Is it normal to still feel some congestion in the ear area even after finishing the antibiotics?

Expert answer: Thanks for your question. Sinus infections are very common, affecting more than 30 million adults in the United States each year.

In these infections, the sinuses (such as those found in the forehead, under the eyes and along the sides of the nasal bridge) become inflamed and may feel full or painful.

The eustachian tube is the channel that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose and throat. During colds, allergies, ear infections or sinusitis, the eustachian tube can become blocked by mucus and cause a person's ears to feel clogged, with a temporary loss of hearing. These symptoms may continue for a few weeks after a cold or other upper respiratory problem has resolved.

In many instances, the sinuses and eustachian tubes will clear on their own after a few days. Treating the underlying cause of the problem (sinusitis, allergies, etc.) is the first step. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help with the discomfort in the meantime. Some people require antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection of the ears or sinuses. In addition, it can be helpful to try other remedies to clear the head of mucus.

I consulted with Dr. Aaron Rogers, an otolaryngologist in Atlanta, Georgia, who shared the following information about some common remedies:

• Nasal washes: Saline rinses, sprays and neti pots don't directly treat the eustachian tube but can be a huge help for sinusitis and runny or stuffy noses. Be sure to clean neti pots with soap and water, and use commercial saline products or make the saline solution yourself with sterile or distilled rather than tap water.

• Nasal steroid sprays: These are available by prescription and can help open up the eustachian tube.

• Physical maneuvers: Chewing gum is a common way to try to keep the eustachian tubes open. You can also pinch your nose and swallow or close your mouth, pinch your nose and blow.

• Nasal decongestant sprays: These medications are available over the counter (such as Afrin) or by prescription and are especially helpful when flying (use 30 minutes before takeoff and landing). They are recommended to be used for no more than about three days at a time, since longer use can cause "rebound" swelling of the nasal passages. Of note, nasal sprays containing zinc should be avoided, as they have been reported to cause the permanent loss of the sense of smell in some cases.

• Oral decongestant medicines: Examples of ingredients include pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. While the problem of rebound is less common with oral decongestants, some people experience palpitations or a rise in blood pressure.

• Oral steroids and antihistamines are sometimes used, particularly in longer-lasting sinus infections; however, they may have side effects such as drying up the mucous membranes of the nasal tissue and thickening the secretions. These are not routinely recommended for the treatment of uncomplicated sinusitis or ear infections.

Since every person's situation may be a little different, it's always best to talk to your own physician for the most appropriate treatment for your case. Good luck!

soundoff (1,714 Responses)
  1. EncoxAni

    walmart pharmacy canada locator best rx pharmacy canadian pharmacy saxenda

    June 3, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. EncoxHtf

    cheapest cialis tadalafil 20 mg cialis and running cialis and dapoxetime tabs in usa

    June 3, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 2005 Dodge Sprinter 2500 A/C Heater Controls Repair


    June 3, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. CrulkAsd

    redtube cialis canadian pharmacy cialis cialis canadian pharmacy

    June 3, 2021 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Flooring Near Me

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 3, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Agency

    Good site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 3, 2021 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Specialist Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sprinter Van Brake Repair Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Window Regulator Repair

    This excellent website truly has all of the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    June 3, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Van Recall Repair Near Me

    I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…


    June 3, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. electric nectar collector

    Dab Padbong bowl for saleDiamond Glass 18mm 45 Degree Showerhead Perc Ash CatcherThe Medicali Ash Catcher with Showerhead Perc has a colored showerhead percolator and is available to order in a selection of colors. Please select your favorite color from the available option in the drop-down menu when you place your order. Please note that you can select the color of the showerhead percolator, it is not possible to select the color or style of the logo. The logos come in a wide variety of colors and styles, you will receive one at random, depending on availability.


    June 3, 2021 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dodge Sprinter Repair Service


    June 3, 2021 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. indoor rv storage orange county


    June 3, 2021 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. furniture reupholstery orange county


    June 3, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. cabinet repair service near me


    June 3, 2021 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Mobile Repair Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. motor home furnishings


    June 3, 2021 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Air Conditioning Repair Near Me

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a means you can remove me from that service? Cheers!


    June 3, 2021 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv wraps near me


    June 3, 2021 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Authorized Mercedes Sprinter Service Centers Near Me

    Hello there, I think your web site might be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent blog!


    June 4, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. orange rv


    June 4, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. animal hospital near me

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 4, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Authorized Mercedes Benz Service Centers Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that will make the greatest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    June 4, 2021 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. wall paint shops near me


    June 4, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. printer near me

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover somebody that truly knows what they're talking about on the web. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people really need to look at this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you aren't more popular since you certainly possess the gift.


    June 4, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Toyota Cargo Van Repair

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 4, 2021 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Dodge Sprinter Fuel Injector Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. gclub

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access
    consistently rapidly.

    June 4, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Vanrooftop A/C Leak Repair

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve visited this web site before but after looking at some of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím certainly happy I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 4, 2021 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Zisseloh

    cialis online without perscription how quickly does cialis start working cialis paypale

    June 4, 2021 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Art Van Repair

    I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    June 4, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mercedes Diesel Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. MileSwa

    cialis on the web cialis price best cialis online

    June 4, 2021 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. vach ngan compact

    It's hard to come by educated people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you're talking about!

    June 4, 2021 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. clozapine

    hydroxychloroquine high clorochina chloroquine phosphate vs plaquenil

    June 4, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rv upholstery near me

    I seriously love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own website and would love to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thank you!


    June 4, 2021 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ZisseVed

    cialis with dapoxetine review what is the active ingredient in cialis viagra vs cialis reviews

    June 4, 2021 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. fire truck repair


    June 4, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. soul food near me


    June 4, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Mercedes Sprinter Service Near Me


    June 4, 2021 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. viết phần mềm theo yêu cầu tại hcm

    I always spent my half an hour to read this blog's articles daily along with a mug of coffee.

    June 4, 2021 at 19:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Repair Shop


    June 4, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Sprinter Repair Codes

    Your style is very unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    June 4, 2021 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. camper repair near me


    June 4, 2021 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. how to repair rv blinds

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this web site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!


    June 4, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Zisseloh

    cialis 10mg what cialis used for how long does cialis work

    June 4, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. jasa seo judi

    Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?

    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or
    anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

    June 5, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. coverx.biz

    If you desire to increase your know-how only keep visiting this site and
    be updated with the latest information posted here.

    June 5, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. EncoxGtv

    best online pharmacy no prescription xanax from canadian pharmacy physicians rx pharmacy

    June 5, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

Leave a Reply to RV Repairs Near Me


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.