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4 Causes of Clogged Ears and How to Remedy Them

Man Holding His Aching Ear
Experiencing a feeling of stuffiness or pressure in your ears can be uncomfortable. Thankfully, in many cases, the feeling is easily remedied. When your ears are clogged, it may be caused by one of several factors. Most commonly, clogged ears is due to a cold, sinusitis, or ear infection. Clogged ears may also be caused by allergies, an accumulation of earwax, or the effects from flying in an airplane.
Here are four possible causes of clogged ears and what you should do to relieve the discomfort.

1. Infection

If you are experiencing a feeling of fullness, pressure, and clogged ears, you may have an infection. If you have a stuffy nose, general malaise, and clogged ears, you may just have a cold. On the other hand, if your clogged ears are accompanied by pain and fever, you could have an ear infection or sinusitis. Your health care provider can make a conclusive diagnosis based on your symptoms and after an examination.
If you have a cold, you may be able to unclog your ears by using a decongestant. However, decongestants may have side effects or raise blood pressure, so use them with caution.
Sinus and ear infections are typically treated with antibiotics, and once the infection and subsequent congestion clears up, you should find relief from the pressure in your ears.
If a sinus infection is causing your clogged ears, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help thin the mucus and secretions which have been adding to the pressure in your ears. You might also try placing a warm compress over your face to help ease pressure and congestion.

2. Allergies

If you suffer from chronic clogged ears, along with nasal symptoms, you might want to be evaluated for nasal allergies. Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, or pollen may cause nasal stuffiness and congestion, along with pressure in the ears.
Decongestants may relieve your symptoms, and you should also avoid the allergy triggers if possible. Inhaling steam and using nasal moisturizing sprays may also loosen congestion and ease the pressure in your ears. Nasal steroids may be prescribed when all else fails. A nasal steroid will reduce inflammation in your nose and sinuses, helping to relieve pressure in the ears.

3. Earwax Buildup

Although often overlooked, earwax buildup is a common cause of clogged ears, or a feeling of pressure and fullness in the ear. An accumulation of earwax over time may block your ears and cause pressure. When the ear canal produces an excessive amount of the waxy substance, it should be gently removed.
Keep in mind that removing earwax by yourself at home may not be a safe practice. If you choose to do so yourself, be extremely careful, otherwise you could damage your eardrum. The safest way to correct the problem is to have your physician remove the earwax in the office. This procedure takes a short time, and it is often done by irrigating the ear using a special instrument.

4. Airplane Ear

Airplane ear is a term for pressure or fullness in the ears when flying in an airplane. This typically occurs while the plane is ascending and descending. The fullness in your ears is caused by pressure in the middle ear, often due to the changes in altitude.
Typically, this condition is not serious and will often clear up within a short period of time. To prevent or relieve clogged ears, you might try chewing gum during your airplane flight. In mild cases, yawning may also be effective. If your stuffy ears do not subside after several hours, or you experience other symptoms such as dizziness, you may need further treatment.
If your ear symptoms persist, see your ear specialist as soon as possible. Contact us today at Birmingham Hearing & Balance Center.