Clogged Ear Feeling? Know The Causes And Home Remedies

Are you getting a clogged ear feeling and don’t know what’s the cause? A clogged ear or blocked ear is nothing serious but it’s irritating and inconvenient. We are uncomfortable and find it difficult to hear as the sound is muffled. Do not panic, in most cases clogged ear feeling is temporary and is caused by something as simple as earwax accumulation, ear infection, or a common cold. Read to know the cause of clogged ear feeling and the home remedies.

Why Does My Ear Feel Clogged?

People also refer clogged ears as blocked ears or plugged ears or even stuffed ears. There are various causes of blocked ears or clogged ears, in some cases, the clogged ear clears up on its own over a few hours or a day.


Causes Of Blocked Ears

Given below are the 12 common causes of blocked ears or clogged ears.

  1. Water Blocked Ear

    Water blocked ear or water clogged ear is very common, it can happen after a shower. Ear clogged after swimming is a common complaint.

  2. Clogged Ears from Cold

    Clogged ears from cold are very common, and so is ear clogged after blowing nose. Severe cold results in a clogged eustachian tube.

  3. Middle Ear Infections or Otitis Media

    The middle ear infection causes fluid to collect behind the eardrum. This gives an ear clogged feeling.

  4. Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear)

    Swimmer’s ear is an outer ear infection due to water getting trapped in the ear canal. The accumulated water promotes bacterial growth resulting in clogged ears.

  5. Ear Blocked Due to Sinus Infection

    Issues such as common colds, allergies, and sinus infections can lead to ear congestion.

  6. Ear Blocked Due to Wax

    Hardened earwax can block the ear canal and the ear feels clogged and muffled.

  7. Higher Altitude or Barotrauma (Aero plane Ear)

    Many people’s ears hurt on planes or have their ears clogged after a flight. Generally, the pressure in the middle ear and the pressure outside are more or less equal. In case the middle ear pressure is not equal, we get a feeling of plugged ears.

  8. Clogged Eustachian Tube

    Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) or Eustachian tube blockage is very common and gives a feeling of fullness in the ears or a clogged ear feeling.

  9. Ears Are Clogged from Allergies

    Some seasonal allergies give a clogged ear feeling due to the increased pressure or fluid build-up in the ears.

  10. Clogged Ear Feeling Due to Acoustic Neuroma

    Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor growing on the nerves leading from the inner ear to the brain. The tumor exerts pressure and might give a feeling of fullness in the ears, sometimes the feeling is similar to water blocked ear.

  11. Clogged Ear Feeling Due to Anxiety

    Many people get a clogged ear feeling if they are anxious or stressed. The ear is very sensitive and detects minor changes in pressure. The heart rate increases due to anxiety and the body releases stress hormones that increase the blood pressure and make the ear feel stuffy.

  12. Clogged Ears Due to Swollen Lymph Nodes

    Swollen lymph nodes clogged ears are possible if one is suffering from an ear infection, allergies, or even a common cold. The lymph nodes in front or behind the ear swell up resulting in a clogged ear feeling and at times earache. Read about the home remedies for earache.

Home Remedies for Blocked Ears

It’s normal human instinct to try out the home remedies for blocked ears before consulting the doctor. Try out the blocked ears remedy mentioned below for immediate relief.

  • Swallowing, yawning, or chewing gum can open up the blocked Eustachian tubes for some relief.
  • Valsalva maneuver can be used If the clogged ear feeling is due to high altitude or the ear gets clogged after a flight. It is not a remedy for a water clogged ear.
  • Close both the nostrils and then try to blow out while keeping your lips closed. The idea is to increase the pressure in the middle ear to clear the clogged ear.
A girl practicing Valsalva maneuver for clogged ears. blog image
Valsalva maneuver to clear clogged ears. Image created by karlyukav –

Caution: Do not blow too hard, it may cause problems with the eardrum. This technique is not advisable for people with high blood pressure or who are at high risk for a stroke or heart attack or who have a heart rhythm problem known as arrhythmia.

  • Steam Inhalation for blocked ears helps in clearing congestion in case of infection and is an effective blocked eustachian tube treatment.
  • Adding a few drops of natural oil in warm water and inhale the steam is more effective in clearing clogged ears.

Eucalyptus oil
Lavender oil
Tea tree oil

Inhaling steam and saline water gargle for clogged ears. blog image
Inhaling steam and saline water gargle for clogged ears. Image: Wikimedia commons
  • Gargle with warm saline water and drink warm liquids. This will clear the clogged eustachian tube.
  • A warm compress is an effective blocked ears remedy.
  • If the ear is blocked due to wax, the use of mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide drops can unclog them. Read this article for tips on earwax removal at home.
  • If you have over the counter ear drops, try them out.
  • Try out a nasal decongestant in case it’s a clogged eustachian tube.
  • Warm the following oils and insert a few drops in the ears to get relief from heaviness and earache.

Olive oil
Mustard oil
Crush a few pods of garlic, mix with olive oil or mustard oil, warm it up, filter the mixture and insert a few drops in the ear.

When Should You See a Doctor?

In case there is no reduction in the clogged ear feeling, or you notice the following symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

  • Fever more than 101° F
  • No relief from an earache or is worsening
  • Ear discharge contains blood or pus
  • Severe dizziness
  • Hearing loss or a ringing sound in the ear

Based on the clogged ears symptoms, your doctor may try one of these remedies:

Ear Syringing or Ear Irrigation

If the earwax has hardened and over the counter earwax softeners do not work, the doctor will inject water under high pressure to dislodge the hard earwax.

Clogged Ears Allergies

If your ears are clogged from allergies, the doctor will prescribe antihistamines.

Ear Ventilation Tubes

In extreme cases, the doctor may recommend a simple surgical procedure to ease pain and reduce pressure by inserting ear ventilation tubes or pressure equalization tubes. The small tube is placed in the eardrum to help drain the accumulated fluid and equalize the pressure between the middle ear and the outside. This procedure immediately reduces the feeling of fullness in the ears.

Use of Antibiotics

In case of severe infection, home remedies for the blocked ear may not work. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Know how to prevent ear infection.

The clogged ear feeling is mostly temporary or lasts a couple of days. In most cases, one of the above home remedies for clogged ears will work. Visit a doctor if you do not find any change in the ear blockage symptoms.


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