Why Does My Ear Feel Clogged?

woman with clogged ears

The feeling that you have clogged ears is a common experience that can have a number of causes. Clogged ears are usually temporary, and most of the time you can resolve the problem with over-the-counter medicines or home remedies. 

But perhaps you are wondering, why does my ear feel clogged in the first place? It is helpful to understand some of the typical reasons your ear feels clogged and what you can do about it. 

What Causes Clogged Ears?

There are a few common causes for this uncomfortable sensation. 

Earwax Buildup 

Earwax is essential in keeping your entire auditory system clean and healthy. Earwax’s stickiness and consistency help keep debris and insects out of your ear canal while also working as a lubricant. Functioning as a self-cleaning agent, earwax falls out of your ear on its own. 

Sometimes, however, earwax can build up and make it more difficult for you to hear, leading to the sensation that your ear is clogged.

Other signs that can tell you earwax may be the reason you have clogged ears include:

  • An earache
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears

The buildup can often happen after using a cotton swab because swabs can push the earwax deeper into the ear. For more information on safely removing ear wax without cotton swabs, follow our guide here.

Fluid in the Ear

If you have fluid in your ear, you may feel you have a clogged ear. Swimming and bathing are common causes of fluid getting into your ear canal. Usually, earwax keeps water from entering your ears, but sometimes fluid can get trapped in the Eustachian tubes, especially after swimming. 

Additionally, if you have an infection or even a simple cold, mucus can block the Eustachian tubes, clogging the ears. 

Sinus Pressure

Sinus pressure can also cause the feeling of clogged ears as well as temporary hearing loss. Because you have sinus cavities beside the ear canal, any inflammation of the sinus cavities can also cause the Eustachian tubes to swell. This puts pressure on the eardrum and makes your ears feel clogged.  

Altitude Changes

Rapid changes in air pressure can cause the sensation of clogged ears because the Eustachian tubes are not always able to equalize pressure correctly. As a result, many people get clogged ears when they fly, when they drive up a mountain, or even when they scuba dive. 

Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged When They Aren’t?

The Eustachian tubes, which run between the back of your nose and your middle ear, usually cause you to feel like you have clogged ears. These tubes can become clogged or swollen, putting pressure on the eardrum and causing uncomfortable or even painful sensations. 

Treatments for a Clogged Ear

Treatments for a clogged ear can vary, depending on what is causing the sensation. 

One of the most effective ways of helping the Eustachian tubes start working correctly again is to perform the Valsalva maneuver. You can do this by taking a deep breath and pinching your nose. You then want to try to exhale through your nose. The Valsalva maneuver puts just enough pressure on the Eustachian tubes to make them open. 

If you suspect your ear feels clogged due to a buildup of earwax, it is safest to reach out to an expert. Don’t try to remove the earwax yourself, which can be dangerous. You risk pushing the wax farther into the ear canal. There are, however, some over-the-counter drops that could be of benefit if wax is the problem. 

Mucus in the Eustachian tubes may be causing your clogged ears if you have allergies or a cold. In this case, you can inhale steam to help loosen the mucus. The best way to do this is to turn on your shower as hot as it can go and sit in the bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes. 

For fluid in the ear, a few different strategies can help. You can tilt your head sideways and gently pull on the affected ear’s lobe. You can also use a hot compress; heat stimulates the Eustachian tubes to open, allowing the fluid to drain naturally. 

Get Relief from a Clogged Ear

By understanding what causes a clogged ear, you can have a better idea of how to treat it. Most of the time, this uncomfortable sensation will resolve on its own, but if you experience other symptoms with it or if it continues for too long, it’s best to reach out to an expert for help. Contact Happy Ears Hearing Center today and make an appointment to get professional hearing care at one of our locations.