Have you ever dealt with a clogged ear or felt like your ears wouldn’t pop? The feeling of having plugged or clogged ears can be unpleasant, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it. Many cases of clogged ears are temporary, but some cases can last longer and affect how you hear. Knowing what’s causing your ear to feel clogged can help you identify solutions for how to fix it. Learn more about what causes clogged ears and how to fix them.
Clogged ears are often described as a feeling of fullness or pressure. Some symptoms of clogged ears include muffled hearing, popping sounds, ear pain, ringing in the ears (or tinnitus), or even dizziness. A clogged ear can sometimes be confused with sudden temporary hearing loss, which is a much more serious condition that requires care from a health professional. If you suspect that you have sudden temporary hearing loss, consult with your doctor immediately to find treatment options.
Your clogged ears can be caused by a number of reasons. Some common reasons why your ears may feel clogged include:
Eustachian tube dysfunction is a condition that occurs when the Eustachian tube, or the small tube that connects your middle ear to your throat, gets plugged. The Eustachian tubes typically open after you sneeze or yawn to prevent air pressure and fluids from building up in your ear. When these tubes become plugged, your ears may feel clogged or even a little painful.
A common cause of Eustachian tube dysfunction is when the tube becomes swollen due to a cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or allergy symptoms. Sudden changes in altitudes on plane rides or elevators can also exacerbate symptoms of this condition. Children, smokers, and people who are obese are more at risk for developing Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Most cases of clogged ears will go away on their own after a few days. If your ears have just recently clogged up, it might be helpful to try chewing gum, yawning, or pinching your nose and exhaling to get your ears to pop. If your ears are clogged due to an illness or allergies, try using over-the-counter products such as decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal steroid sprays. You can also use ear drops to remove excessive ear wax with the guidance of a health care professional.