Clogged ears can happen to anyone – from children to adults and can derail your daily routine. A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear, muffled sounds, straining to hear, a ringing sound that never goes away, discomfort while walking or moving your head, dizziness, etc. – clogged ears are a real pain.
But, the good news here is that – your ears usually unblock within a few hours. Opening your mouth wide, yawning, swallowing, chewing gum are a few easy ways to open your blocked ears. If you hear a popping sound, then you know that your ears are back to normal.
Why do ears get clogged?
It’s best to identify the causes of clogged ears so that you can treat it and avoid it from happening again. Some of the common causes are:
- Earwax Accumulation
It’s one of the common causes of blocked ears. Earwax acts as a natural barrier preventing dust, dirt, and other foreign objects from entering the sensitive ear canal. Sometimes, when the glands secrete too much earwax, it can block the inner ear passage, leading to plugged ears.
You can treat earwax buildup by adding a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, or coconut oil into the ear. The oil helps to loosen the earwax and remove the excessive buildup. Alternatively, several OTC medications help to remove earwax.
What not to do?
Avoid using cotton swabs as it pushes the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Also, do not dig out earwax with your hands. Avoid candling, as it can lead to burns and even cause severe ear canal obstruction.
- Allergies and Sinus Infections
A painful side-effect of a sinus infection is blocked ears. If you notice that your ears are clogged along with other symptoms like – a sore throat, cough, runny nose, sneezing – then you can know that your sinuses are blocked.
Inhaling steam through your nose can help unclog an ear blocked due to allergies or an infection. Adding a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus, tea tree or peppermint oil to boiling water and inhaling the steam helps to reduce inflammation and clear the mucus. Once your sinus gets back to normal, your ears get unclogged.
- High Altitude
Some people find that their ears get clogged when they travel to places at high altitudes or when they take an airplane journey.
If your ears feel blocked due to an increase in the altitude and differences in pressure, you can try any one of the following till you hear a popping sound: yawn, chew on candy, chewing gum, or gently blow the nostrils while pinching the nostrils with your hand.
- Due to Loss of Hearing
If the feeling of clogged ears does not go away even after trying all the remedies mentioned above, it’s time to see a doctor. The doctor starts the diagnosis with a few basic questions like do both your ears feel plugged, or is it just one ear? Have you lost any hearing? Do you notice fluid discharge, ringing in the ears or pain?
Based on your answers, the doctor will prescribe some diagnostic tests that will help to identify the condition. If the doctor determines the reason for muffled ears as hearing loss, he/she may prescribe inexpensive hearing aids to help you out.
Before, that he/she will conduct further tests to check your hearing capabilities and identify whether the type of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss – This is generally a temporary problem and is usually treated by removing the blockages from the inner ear.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – As we age, the nerves in our ears lose their sensitivity, which can lead to loss of hearing.
Today, there are plenty of new sound hearing aids that can be worn without impacting your lifestyle. You can either purchase online hearing aids or get your doctor to prescribe the right model for you.
Identify the Cause and Treat accordingly
Clogged ears are generally only a temporary problem and usually go away on their own. You can pop your ears by trying general home remedies or OTC medications. However, if the feeling persists, then consult your doctor to identify the root cause and treat it effectively.