Physician examining a male patient's ear

Factors both inside and outside of the ears can cause them to become clogged. When the ears are clogged, it can cause pain and discomfort and affect hearing and balance. Call your ENT doctor if you experience severe symptoms with clogged ears, or if symptoms persist for more than two weeks. 

What can you do when your ears are clogged?

Your ears can become clogged when the eustachian tubes that run from the middle ear to the back of the nose become obstructed. This can cause dizziness, muffled hearing, and ear pain. To correct the problem, try the following:

  • Swallow, yawn, or chew gum to open the eustachian tubes.
  • Try the Valsalva maneuver – take a deep breath, pinch your nose, close your mouth, and attempt to exhale gently through your nose. The pressure this creates may be enough to cause your ears to “pop.”
  • Inhale steam from the shower to loosen mucous in the ears.
  • Place a warm washcloth over the ear.
  • Take nasal decongestants for a few days.

If you are unable to unclog your ears with home remedies, see a doctor. Depending on what is causing your clogged ears, treatment may involve removal of built up ear wax, antibiotics (for an ear or sinus infection), antihistamines, or topical nasal steroids (particularly if you have allergies). In severe cases, surgical placement of tubes may be required to drain fluid and relieve pressure. 

Where can you go for the highest quality of care?

Texas ENT Specialists is one of the nation’s leading ENT networks. What sets us apart is this: Our patients are our priority, and our philosophy of care extends beyond the clinic. Our doctors are knowledgeable in the most advanced technologies, and we maintain a comfortable rapport with our patients. If your clogged ears do not resolve with home remedies, schedule a consultation to find out how we can help. 

Is ear tube surgery a minor procedure?

Ear tube placement is a minimally invasive procedure that takes approximately 15 minutes. When performed on children, it is done under general anesthesia. For adults, local anesthesia may be an option. The surgeon makes a tiny incision in the ear drum using a small scalpel or laser, then suctions the fluid out of the middle ear. The doctor inserts a small tube in the incision in the eardrum to allow fluid to drain.

How soon can you return to normal activities?

You or your child should be able to resume normal activities within 24 hours after the procedure. Your doctor will advise you on follow-up care. Antibiotic ear drops may be prescribed to prevent infection. Your doctor may order a hearing test after the procedure. 

FAQ about clogged ears

What are the factors that lead to clogged ears?

Clogged ears can result from different causes, including:

  • Sinus infections
  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Earwax buildup
  • Blocked eustachian tubes
  • Rapid changes in air pressure outside the body
  • Acoustic neuroma (a benign grown on the nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain)

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