Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged?

By AOO on April 11, 2022 under Ear Nose Throat Doctor

Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged?

Do your ears feel so plugged up that you’re not sure whether to pop, chew, or just let them be? If you’ve ever experienced a clogged sensation in your ears, you might be wondering what exactly is causing this feeling. You might have thought it was an ear infection or that you hadn’t cleaned your ears in a while. However, many other causes could be the culprit behind this clogged sensation. Here are some of the possible causes of clogged ears and when you should see an ENT specialist.

Earwax Buildup

If you’ve ever experienced an earache and felt like your ears were plugged up, it might be caused by earwax buildup. Earwax is a natural material produced by the body that acts as a coating on the inner ear. The body naturally produces earwax – but not in clumps. If you experience clumps of earwax, it could result in your ears being clogged. If you’re experiencing earwax buildup, there are a few treatment options. Your ENT specialist can clean them out with specialized tools during a quick, in-office appointment. Be wary of over-the-counter drops or cleaning treatments, since these can damage your ears or cause infection.

Sinus Congestion

Sinus congestion occurs when the sinuses become irritated. This can be triggered by infection, prolonged allergies, or a cold. When you have a sinus infection, the tissues in the nose begin to swell and narrow the nasal passages. This increased pressure from your sinus congestion can also affect the ears. If they cannot equalize the pressure, they will likely become clogged. Sinuses drain through the Eustachian tubes, which connect the nasal cavity and middle ear. These tubes are responsible for equalizing the pressure between your ears and the environment. If they cannot open up and drain, pressure builds up in the middle ear. The symptoms of sinus congestion include pain in the face, particularly behind the eyes, and clogged feeling in the ears. You may need to see your ENT specialist for sinus infection treatment to get rid of the clogged feeling in your ears.

Fluid in the Ears

You may experience a cloggy sensation in your ears if you have fluid in your ears. This could be water from swimming, excessive sweating, and even from a drop in temperature. This material can be flushed out of the ear with a few drops of warm, saline water. However, this should never be done if your eardrum is perforated or damaged. If the ear canal is sore or painful, you should also see an ENT specialist before doing this. This can help prevent further damage to your ear and a cloggy sensation from occurring in the future.

Changes in Altitude

If you live at a higher altitude than average, you could be more susceptible to ear pressure changes. The body is meant to fight against the effects of altitude at a certain point. The ears, sinuses, and lungs are meant to compensate for the pressure changes due to altitude. If you’re visiting an area of higher altitude, it can take a few days for your body to adjust. Therefore, you could feel clogged-up ear sensations during this time.

When Should You See An ENT Doctor?

If you’re experiencing a cloggy feeling in your ears and it bothers you or doesn’t go away, it’s important to see an ENT specialist. If you have chronic ear issues, such as an infection or chronic earwax buildup, then your ENT specialist can help you with long-term treatment based on the underlying causes. To meet with our ENT team and achieve relief from clogged ears, contact our Denver office by calling or filling out our online form.