The clogged ear is a general term for the feeling of fullness we sometimes feel within our ears. The problem can be annoying, and even painful at times. There are many reasons for the clogging as well as ways to handle the problem depending on the reason the ear is clogged. Read on to find tips on how to effectively deal with a clogged ear.
Eustachian Tube Blockage
This tube is what connects the middle ear to the throat. Fluid from your ear flows through this tube where the throat can swallow it. Occasionally this fluid and mucous can become trapped in the middle ear and clog it. The blockage often accompanies infections such as a cold, influenza, or sinusitis. Symptoms include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and a sore throat. Unblocking the tube is essential as it can lead to an ear infection. Treatment can include:
- Nasal decongestants
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Antibiotics for infection
- Placement of ear tubes
Earwax guards the ear by trapping dirt and functioning as a lubricant. Most of the time it falls out of your ear on its own, but occasionally it becomes clogged in the ear. Once impacted, it can affect your hearing, and it is often accompanied by:
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- An earache
- Ringing in the ear
- Partial hearing loss
Never attempt to remove earwax yourself using a cotton swab, ear candles, hydrogen peroxide, or any other household object. Visit your hearing healthcare professional or physician for safe earwax removal.
Fluid In The Ear
If you have felt the pain of swimmer’s ear, you will probably never forget it. Swimming and bathing can allow fluid to become trapped inside the Eustachian tube. An ear infection can also lead to fluid build-up inside of your ear. Here are a few things you can do:
- Tilt head sideways and gently pull the earlobe
- Use a warm compress to widen the Eustachian tube and release the fluid
- Use Valsalva maneuver
Of course, see your hearing healthcare professional or physician for an infection that does not clear up on its own.
Flying in an airplane, scuba diving, and driving up a mountain. What do these three have in common? They all cause a rapid change in the air pressure outside which causes your ears to feel clogged. The responsibility of equalizing this pressure falls to the Eustachian tube. However, at high altitudes, it can’t always balance the pressure accurately which leads to the pressure in the ears. This inability to balance is usually only a side effect of an altitude change and will generally clear up quickly.
Sinus problems are tough to handle and can cause a temporary hearing loss. Your sinus cavities reside beside your ear canal. If your sinus cavities are inflamed, it may cause the Eustachian tube to swell which leads to clogging between your middle ear and your throat. The good news is that this type of hearing loss is temporary and usually returns after the sinus congestion clears up.
Whether it be earwax, fluid, a blockage, or an altitude change, a clogged ear is no fun. If your clogged ear does not resolve on its own or becomes infected, seek treatment.