My ears feel clogged – what’s that all about?
If your ears feel clogged, there could be different underlying reasons – and different ways of getting rid of the clogging. Let’s check them out.
When your ears are clogged, it’s not a nice feeling. Sound becomes muffled, just like it sometimes does when your plane takes off, or when you get water in your ears. But if the sensation persists, it may not just be that plane ride or the trip to the public pool that blocked your ears. There’s also a big difference between the kind of clogged ears that hurt and the kind that don’t hurt.
How do your ears feel?
My ears feel clogged, and it hurts
Well, then you could have an ear infection. Ear infections are very common and can be caused by many things, including sinus infections, excess mucus, allergies, and even smoking. Clogged ears from a mild ear infection usually last one or two weeks. If the problems are in the inner ear, this could last longer. Mild ear infections clear up by themselves, and you can alleviate the pain with painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, ear drops, or simply by applying a warm cloth to your ear.
If the pain and the clogging don’t stop after one or two weeks, you should go see your doctor. Some more serious inner-ear infections could potentially (in rare cases) be followed by meningitis, a ruptured eardrum, or hearing loss.
My ears are clogged, but it doesn’t hurt
Then there’s a good chance you may have excess earwax. In general, earwax is great. Earwax essentially protects our ears from dirt and bacteria and makes sure that these things can’t get through the ear canal and harm our eardrums.
But if you have too much earwax, it could cause symptoms of an infection, tinnitus, vertigo or a cough. And as you probably know already, it can affect your hearing. In fact, if the earwax isn’t removed, it could potentially cause hearing loss at some point.
So why do you get clogged or stuffed ears?
People produce different amounts of earwax for different reasons. For instance, for some people, swimming has been known to cause a higher production of earwax. And if you produce a lot of earwax, you’re more likely to experience a blockage.
Hearing aids or earplugs tend to prevent earwax from falling out of the ear and could also cause a blockage. So, if you happen to produce a lot of hearing wax, or you wear hearing aids or use earplugs a lot, make sure you get your ears cleaned once in a while.
Here’s what to do about ears clogged with earwax
We know it’s tempting to grab a cotton swab or the corner of your towel, but please don’t. Cotton swabs and towel corners could make things worse. If you have clogged ears, the best solution is to get them cleaned by a doctor or a healthcare professional.
But if your ears continue to feel stuffed after they have been cleaned and it still doesn’t hurt, you could have the first symptoms of hearing loss. That means it may be time to get a free test at a hearing care professional. You could always start with a free online hearing test, but if your ears are blocked, there’s a good chance your hearing is worse than normal, and that the online hearing test will, in the end, also encourage you to see a hearing care professional.