Clogged ear_ Causes

Eight Reasons and Solutions for Clogged Ears

Having a clogged ear is common, but when left untreated, it can lead to serious illnesses. However, even knowing this, people resort to homemade and dubious techniques that end-up potentially jeopardizing proper hearing function.

With that in mind, in this article, we will show you some of the main reasons that can lead to clogged ears and the right steps to take in each case.

Wax build-up

The wax that forms in the ear is a normal secretion produced to clean, protect and lubricate the ear canal.

For example, if you over-clean the wax, your body may find it necessary to increase production, causing a result that is contrary to expectations. But when this self-cleaning mechanism malfunctions, the wax builds up, hardens, and partially or totally blocks the ear channel.

What to do: To remove the accumulated wax and relieve the sensation of a blocked ear, it is recommended to go to an audiologist or ENT physician to do a proper cleaning.  It is also important to avoid the use of cotton swabs within the ear canal; cotton swabs can potentially damage the ear drum.

Water in the ear

Among the main causes of the clogged ear, here is one that you can solve yourself. The clogged ear is often caused by water entering the ear, either during a bath, going to the beach, or when swimming in the pool. If, for some reason, it is not removed, it can increase the risk of ear infections; in such cases, it is important in this case to consult an ENT physician.

What to do: When water gets in your ear, jiggling your ear lobe, yawn deliberately, and or lie down with your ear down for several minutes and wait until it comes out. However, if after 48 hours the problem does not go away, it is important to seek medical help from a professional audiologist or ENT physician to check what is happening.

Pressure difference

With the increase in altitude that happens when you fly in an airplane or climb to the top of a mountain, the air pressure decreases, causing a pressure difference and giving a feeling of a stuffy ear.

In addition to the feeling of a blocked ear, it is normal to also experience pain in the ear when exposed to large pressure changes.

What to do: One option is when the plane takes off, breathe through the mouth, yawn, or chew gum, as this helps the air out of the ear and prevent clogging. When the plane lands, a way to relieve the sensation of a plugged ear is to keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose.


Clogged ears may occur when a person has a cold since the nasal passages are blocked by secretions, preventing air circulation and increasing pressure in the ear.

What to do: To treat a blocked ear, it is important to first unclog the nose so that the air can circulate again. You can do this by inhaling steam vapors with eucalyptus, taking a hot bath, or imbibing a hot drink.


The labyrinth is a region of the ear that is responsible not only for hearing but also for the balance of the body. There is a disease known as labyrinthitis that affects this area, causing the person to experience strong dizziness, tinnitus, and, in some cases, a feeling of a plugged ear.

What to do: Although there is no cure for labyrinthitis, there are medications that help to control the disease, so that the person can lead a normal life. Thus, it is important to consult an ENT doctor so that they can prescribe medications that may help to relieve the symptoms.



Also called otitis, ear infection causes a sensation of clogging due to swelling in the ear canal, preventing sounds from reaching the inside. Other symptoms include redness in the ear, itching, and low-grade fever.

What to do: It is important to talk to an ENT doctor so that the diagnosis and prescription treatment plan is conducted correctly. First of all, he/she may use some ear spray-type medicines such as Otomize so to relieve inflammation, reducing pain and swelling.

Dental problems

One of the dental problems that can affect the ear is bruxism. Because of the grinding of the teeth and also the incorrect movement of the jaw, the ear canal may end up being affected, causing the sensation of a blocked ear.

What to do: In this case, it is important to have the guidance of an otolaryngologist, in addition to monitoring with a dentist, in order to treat bruxism and jaw movement.

Ménière’s syndrome

Ménière’s syndrome does not yet have a known cause. The condition usually affects people between 40 and 50 years of age, causing certain symptoms such as constant tinnitus, dizziness, hearing loss, and a blocked ear sensation.

Such symptoms appear suddenly, last for a few minutes to a few hours, and then disappear.

What to do: Since there is no known cure for this syndrome, an ENT doctor can recommend medications to help combat the symptoms.



Deborah Weatherspoon, Valencia Higuera,  Why Does My Ear Feel Clogged, March 7, 2019

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Kathleen Pointer, How to Unclog Your Ears, December 20, 2017

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