Suffering from a clogged ear can be a painful and frustrating experience. Because of the connection between your sinuses and ears, it’s not uncommon for fluid to sometimes get trapped in your ears. This post looks at 7 different clogged ear causes that you need to know about.
1. Excessive Earwax
Earwax is one of the most common clogged ear causes. Although earwax is necessary for maintaining the health of your ears, too much can cause issues. Earwax usually is soft, but certain conditions can cause it to harden, which causes clogging and blockages. If you have earaches, ringing in the ears or constantly feel dizzy, you may have too much earwax built up.
When cleaning your ears, don’t stick anything too deep into your ears. Use a soft cotton swab to help clear the blockage. While you may feel like you need to get deep in your ear, sticking a q-tip into your ear canal can actually push the wax deeper into your ear. Stick to the outside and be gentle when cleaning your ears.
2. Tube Blockage
The eustachian tube connects the middle of your ear to your throat. When this tube is working properly, mucus and fluid flow smoothly from your ears to the back of your throat, then your body swallows the excess fluid. However, with a blockage, fluid, and mucus become trapped in the middle of your ear, which causes a clog. Usually, blockages in the eustachian tube are caused by colds, flu, or sinusitis. Allergies can also aggravate the development of blockages.
It’s important to deal with blockages in this tube to avoid getting an ear infection. The moist environment of your ear encourages bacteria and fungus to grow, which can lead to swimmer’s ear or an ear infection. Look out for symptoms such as ear pain, redness around your ears, fever, or excess fluid drainage.
3. Traveling At High Altitude
Significant changes in altitude are common clogged ear causes. Changes in elevation can cause temporary ear blockages due to the rapid changes in air pressure. Activities like scuba diving, flying in an airplane, or even driving up a mountain can cause your body to create a blockage in your ear.
The eustachian tube plays the role of equalizing pressure in your middle ear, but it isn’t always able to regulate pressure at high or low altitudes. This is why people notice changes in pressure mostly in their ears. Significant changes in altitude can also cause altitude sickness, which often starts with a clogged ear.
4. Aggravation Of Allergies
During allergy season, your risk of developing a blockage in your ear increases. Depending on what you’re allergic to, your body may respond by producing more histamine. The elevated levels of histamine irritate the lining of your ears, which can affect your hearing and lead to blockages.
The aggravation of your allergies can also lead to the development of tinnitus, which is a serious condition that can affect your hearing, balance, and cause a persistent buzzing in your ears. Excess histamine production also causes inflammation in the mucous lining of your throat, nose, and ears, which contributes to the development of blockages.
5. Muscle Tension
Surprisingly, muscle tension in your neck and jaw can cause blockages in your ear. The jaw joint is directly in front of your ear and the base of your skull, which is directly beneath your ear. Inflammation in these areas can cause excess pressure, which eventually leads to blockages.
The inflammation in these areas can also cause issues with your sensory nerves, which again increases your risk of suffering a blockage. If you grind your teeth while you sleep and have significant neck/jaw pain, it’s important to take steps to deal with your tight muscles. Yoga, physical therapy, and speaking with your doctor can prevent the problem from becoming too severe.
6. Eardrum Fluid
Ear infections and excess fluid from sinus issues can cause fluid to build up behind your eardrum. Fluid build-up behind your eardrum is usually accompanied by a pain in your ear and fever. Upper respiratory illnesses are also connected with fluid build-up in your ear. Take the time to get checked out by a doctor as this can be quickly diagnosed with a physical exam.
7. Beginning Of Hearing Loss
It’s easy to mistake hearing loss for a clogged ear. People who begin to suffer from hearing loss often mistake the feeling of pressure or fullness in their ear for a blockage when, in reality, it’s hearing loss taking place. It’s well worth getting a comprehensive hearing test to help identify if your ear is truly clogged or if it’s the beginning of hearing loss. Because the sensations are so familiar, it’s vital to get a professional diagnosis. Using q-tips to remove a blockage when your ears aren’t plugged can cause more severe issues.