Clogged ears

Clogged ears can result to muffled sounds and strained hearing. The ear might unblock on its own in hours or days. Luckily, various home remedies and drugs can provide rapid relief.

What are the usual causes?

  • Eustachian tube blockage – this is a possible cause of clogged ears. The blockage might be accompanied by an infection such as sinusitis or common cold. The Eustachian tube should be unblocked since the trapped fluid can lead to an ear infection.
  • High altitude – some individuals experience brief clogged ears while scuba diving, travelling by plane or driving up a mountain. The rapid changes in the air pressure outside the body results to blockage.
  • Earwax – if earwax is responsible for clogged ears, it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as ear pain, dizziness and ringing in the ears.
    Clogged ears

    Certain drugs can be used to treat clogged ears due to common cold, sinus drainage or allergies.

  • Acoustic trauma – this is a benign growth that forms on the cranial nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. Once these growths become larger, they place pressure on the nerves in the inner ear which leads to clogged ears, ringing and hearing loss.

Management of clogged ears

Even though clogged ears can be annoying, it can be managed with home remedies.

  • Valsalva maneuver – this technique helps open the Eustachian tube by taking a deep breath and pinching the nose. With the mouth closed, try to exhale gently via the nose
  • Steam inhalation – turn the shower to the hot setting and the individual should sit in the bathroom for 10-15 minutes. The steam produced helps loosen the mucus in the ear. Another alternative is using a basin with hot water and drape a towel over the head while inhaling the steam.
  • Dealing with the trapped fluid – with the index finger, insert into the ear and carefully move the finger upwards and downwards. This method helps get rid of any leftover fluid. A hair dryer can also be used on low setting held a few inches away from the ear to dry the fluid.
  • Over-the-counter medications – certain drugs can be used to treat clogged ears due to common cold, sinus drainage or allergies.
  • Ear drops – apply 2-3 drops of warmed mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or baby oil into the ear with a dropper. The head must be slanted for a few short while after the application to flush out the wax from the ear.

What is the outlook?

Clogged ears are typically brief with the help of several home remedies and over-the-counter medications. If the ears are still blocked or if there is hearing loss, ear pain or ringing in the ears, a doctor must be seen. In such cases, prescription-strength ear drops, or manual wax removal is required.


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