Child receiving treatment on his ear.

How To Treat Clogged Ears

If you have clogged ears, you know what a nuisance it can be to have to strain to hear. Whether your blockage is causing you pain or discomfort, an ENT can identify the cause and treat the condition correctly. 

Why are my ears clogged?

If your ears are plugged, it is essential that you identify the cause of the blockage. Your ears may unblock on their own, or the condition continues. Several physical conditions can lead to clogged ears. Some of the most common include:

  • A blockage in the Eustachian tube: The Eustachian tube is what connects your middle ear to your throat. It helps the ears drain fluid and equalizes the pressure around the eardrum. Infections such as the flu, sinusitis or the common cold may block the Eustachian tube, causing mucus and fluid to be trapped in the middle ear. This can cause symptoms such as hearing difficulties, pain, and a feeling of fullness in your ears. 
  • Earwax: Earwax is usually soft, and it exists to protect your ear and keep it clean. Sometimes, wax hardens, creating a blockage. This could be caused by using cotton swabs to clean your ears. ENTs and other medical professionals do not advise this method of cleaning, as it may push the earwax deeper into the ear rather than removing it. 
  • Changes in altitude: A sudden change in altitude can also cause your ears to become clogged. When you go scuba diving or fly in a plane, the rapid change in pressure around the body can prevent the Eustachian tube from equalizing the pressure in your middle ear.

What can I do to unclog my ears?

Sometimes, a clogged ear will resolve on its own in a matter of hours. If it does not, there are many ways to address the problem. A range of home remedies could be effective. If you are dealing with a blocked Eustachian tube, it is important to clear the blockage rapidly, as the fluid trapped in your ear could cause an ear infection. Treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter medication such as nasal sprays, decongestants or cold or sinus medication
  • Inhaling steam
  • Taking a hot shower or placing a warm compress over your ear to get steam into your ear canal
  • Gently moving your finger up and down in the ear that is blocked. This may help dislodge trapped fluid. 
  • Ear drops
  • Ear irrigation

Should I see a doctor?

If home remedies are not effective or you suspect you have an ear infection or sinusitis, it is time to get medical help from an ENT, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at South Florida ENT Associates. A medical professional can identify the cause of your clogged ears and treat it correctly. We offer a range of diagnostic tests and treatments for clogged ears.


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