Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged?

Do your ears feel stuffy and clogged? Are you suffering from sudden hearing loss or difficulty hearing? From impacted earwax to a sinus infection, clogged ears are major nuisances. Fortunately, there’s likely an easy fix. So scroll down for some answers if you’ve been wondering, “Why do my ears feel clogged?” Impacted Earwax It might […]

Do your ears feel stuffy and clogged? Are you suffering from sudden hearing loss or difficulty hearing? From impacted earwax to a sinus infection, clogged ears are major nuisances. Fortunately, there’s likely an easy fix. So scroll down for some answers if you’ve been wondering, “Why do my ears feel clogged?”

Impacted Earwax

It might seem strange and unpleasant, but earwax is actually a very useful mechanism that your body produces to protect your ears. The stickiness of earwax works to trap dirt, dust, and other pollutants, keeping your ears safe and clean. However, one of the most common reasons behind clogged ears is a buildup of earwax (or cerumen). According to the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, “earwax impaction is one of the most common ear pathologies . . . In the USA, about 6% of the population suffer from impacted cerumen.” Especially as we age, a buildup of earwax is common.

Ear wax can build up over time, which can lead to it becoming impacted. When your ears are impacted, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Feeling a “seal” that cannot be broken
  • Dulled hearing or partial hearing loss
  • Itching
  • Discharge
  • Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus pressure

Impacted earwax can be easily removed; however, it’s important to consult a general physician or audiologist for treatment. Don’t ever try to remove impacted earwax yourself using a cotton swab or any other DIY tool. You could push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Worse, you could accidentally puncture your eardrum. To protect your ear and effectively remove the earwax, contact an audiologist.

Your doctor can often effectively remove earwax blockage. They may use a flush of warm water or suction. Occasionally, certain earwax removal medications may be prescribed as well. 

Sinus Pressure

A stuffy nose, congestion, facial tenderness – you’re familiar with the symptoms of a cold or sinus infection. However, some cold sufferers might not know that sinus inflammation can negatively impact your ears. Since you have sinus cavities next to your ear canal, any inflammation in your sinus cavities can also put pressure on the eardrum, which can be a source of major discomfort.

The good news? Ear stuffiness typically fades along with the rest of your cold symptoms. In more severe cases, you might experience pain, dizziness, and difficulty hearing. Sometimes, antibiotics may be required to clear up your sinus infection. Seek out your doctor’s help to ensure there is no severe damage to your ear(s) or your sinuses and follow their instructions to help restore your hearing and overall comfort. 

Fluid in the Ear

Most people, especially frequent swimmers, are familiar with the feeling of having fluid trapped in the ear. Although earwax usually prevents water from entering your ear in the pool or shower, water can, at times, become trapped in the ear. In those cases, try tilting your head sideways and gently pulling your earlobe to release the water. ”

But I’m not a swimmer,” you might say. “So why do my ears feel clogged?” Well, fluid can also develop in the ears when a patient is suffering from a middle ear infection.

The eustachian tube carries excess fluid from the ear to the back of the throat, where it is swallowed and discarded. However, when there is a buildup of fluid in your ear, it will collect in this tube and can even lead to infection if not properly treated. An accumulation of fluid can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Pressure
  • Vertigo
  • Gross motor delays (if left untreated in children)

Although middle ear infections are usually minor, make sure to call your doctor if the pain is severe or if your symptoms last longer than a day.

Altitude Changes

Have you ever felt an uncomfortable, even painful, sensation in your ears during a plane’s descent? Rapid changes in the ambient pressure around you – like those caused by sudden altitude changes – can unsettle the auditory tube. When the auditory tube is unsettled, it struggles to equalize the pressure between the middle and outer ear. Even slight changes in altitude can cause our ears to pop or feel clogged. Ear barotrauma occurs when the ear is affected by high-pressure changes. Symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Feeling a “seal” or fullness in the ear
  • Earn pain
  • Ear pressure
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Dizziness

While it is normal to feel your ears adjust along with the altitude and you can often “pop” them yourself, the fragile inner ear can become damaged by altitude changes.

If you have recently encountered high-altitude or altitude changes and have not regained your normal hearing or typical sensation, it’s important to visit an audiologist. They will evaluate your situation and offer treatment options.

When to See A Doctor

Still wondering, “Why do my ears feel clogged?” Don’t live with the discomfort of clogged ears for another day. Reach out to Sound Relief Hearing Center if you’re located in Colorado or Arizona. Our expert audiologists will work to understand the reason behind your clogged ears and get you back on track to healthy hearing.

Sound Relief Hearing Center has 8 locations in Colorado and Arizona. We are independently owned, so we always have the patient’s best interests at heart, and our state-of-the-art technology ensures that our patients receive the best treatment available.

With our unparalleled excellence in the hearing industry, our dedication to patient satisfaction, and our commitment to helping people control and conquer their hearing issues, you can count on Sound Relief Hearing Center for support and assistance. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our YouTube channel, or give us a call at 720-344-7600. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. We look forward to hearing from you!

At Sound Relief Tinnitus & Hearing Center, we provide hope and help to those living with tinnitus and other hearing health issues. Our patients are at the center of everything we do, and we strive to guide them to overcome their challenges by delivering innovative and compassionate healthcare.

Dr. Julie Prutsman, owner of this family-owned practice, has expanded to 9 locations across Colorado and Arizona. In 2012, she founded Sound Relief in her hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and continues to foster their mission through mentorship of the brightest minds in the field of Audiology.