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Plugged ears: causes and remedies

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Having plugged ears is quite an annoying situation, primarily when the symptom manifests itself for a long time. To understand why these organs are covered, it is essential to explain that the ear is divided into external, middle, and internal. The middle ear, in addition to the bones that make it up, is a cavity that is filled with air and communicates with the back of the nose through the Eustachian tube, a kind of tube that is responsible for balancing the alterations of pressure when there are changes in height, for example, when we travel by plane.

Certain factors such as height, illness, and infection can cause the Eustachian tube to become blocked, pressure to increase, and the ears to plug. This symptom can last a few days and then usually disappears; however, when the discomfort becomes chronic, it is essential to attend the doctor to rule out any major complication in the organ. To learn more about this condition, we invite you to continue reading this article by FastlyHealabout plugged ears: causes and remedies.

Why are your ears plugged?

The plugging of the ears is entirely associated with the pressure of the middle ear. The ear is plugged when the pressure in the middle ear is different from the outside or ambient pressure, that is, when the outside pressure is lower or higher than that of the middle ear. The symptom usually disappears when the pressure in the middle ear equals that of the outside; however, sometimes, it takes several days for the ears to unblock.

Many factors can affect the pressure of the middle ear, and knowing them is essential to identify when we should see a specialist. Below we will thoroughly address each of the possible causes of plugged ears and their symptoms.

Ears plugged by excess wax.

The glands found in the outer ear are responsible for ear wax production. This substance is responsible for protecting the eardrum from any external microorganisms that can damage it, such as dust particles, bacteria, and fungi. As the wax is produced, it is expelled by itself to the outside of the ear, where it falls or is eliminated through washing.

In some cases, earwax production can be excessive and accumulate, causing blockage of the external auditory canal, to the point that wax plugs are one of the leading causes of hearing loss. When there is excess wax in the ear, the person usually manifests the following symptoms:

The wax accumulated in the ear can be treated at home by applying baby oil or water to the hole; however, when this technique does not work, it is recommended to assist the doctor in draining the earwax by suctioning the external auditory canal. Frequent swabs or rough cleaning of the ears can collect wax on the inside of the outer ear and form a plug.

Ear infection

An ear infection is one of the most common causes of plugged ears in children and adults. This condition is caused by inflammation of the middle ear, where the Eustachian tube that regulates hearing pressure is located. This condition develops quickly and is very painful since the Eustachian line is also responsible for producing fluid in the middle ear. When a said substance is blocked, it can accumulate and cause an acute infection known as otitis. Usually, this disease occurs due to allergies, sinus infections, colds, excess mucus, smoking, and very large adenoids.

The most common symptoms of ear infections are:

  • Earache.
  • Plugged ears.
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.
  • General discomfort.
  • Difficulty hearing correctly or hypocaust.
  • Sounds in the ears.

A medical specialist should treat the ear infection when the cause of the condition is bacteria; since then, it is necessary to treat the person with antibiotic medications. In other cases, such as a viral condition, the infection usually improves as the body copes with the virus or cold with the help of pain relievers to relieve symptoms and pain.

Ears plugged by water.

When we are in the water and we submerge the head, it is possible that the external auditory canal fills with water and that this does not come out ultimately. When this happens, we usually realize it immediately, since when we move our head, we will feel how the water trapped inside the ear moves. In most cases, it is enough to tilt the head towards the side of the ear that is blocked and shake it several times so that the water comes out.

Avoiding the accumulation of water in the ear is essential to prevent infections; for this reason, if you usually swim, we recommend that you use a good quality cap or earplugs. Likewise, after showering, it is essential to dry the outer part of the ear well to avoid irritation.

Atmospheric pressure

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, when the environmental pressure is different from the pressure in the middle ear, an imbalance occurs that blocks the Eustachian tube and causes plugged ears. This is the most common cause of clogged ears and usually occurs when we travel by plane, dive under the sea, or are on a very high mountain.

When the ears are plugged due to atmospheric pressure, the symptom usually disappears in a couple of days. Yawning, chewing gum, or moving your jaw to the side can help end the feeling of plugging. If, after a week, the symptom persists, it is essential to see a specialist.

Being constantly exposed to deafening noises, such as people working in nightclubs or construction, can also alter the pressure in the ear from the vibration of sound waves. It is essential to reduce exposure to these sounds to prevent the ear from suffering further complications.

Ménière’s disease

It is one of the most complex causes of plugged ears and one of the least common. It is an inner ear disorder whose cause is unknown and usually affects only one ear. Ménière ‘s disease is one of the leading causes of deafness, and it is believed that the origin of the disease lies in the mixture of the fluids of the inner ear or an imbalance in them. This disease has no cure, and its main symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Plugged ears.
  • Earache.

Symptoms can come and go, and treatment consists of medicines for dizziness, a low-salt diet, and drugs with a diuretic effect. Some people with Ménière’s disease even need a device that helps push air into the middle ear to regulate pressure when placed in the outer ear.

Remedy for waxed ears

This remedy will only be helpful in the case of ears plugged by excess wax in the external canal since infections and other pathologies require medical attention and specific treatment to improve the symptoms of the disease. Follow the steps below to unclog your ears:

  1. In pharmacies, you can find special preparations to unclog the ears. You can also make a homemade one by mixing a baby oil with hydrogen peroxide or in a container.
  2. Once you have your solution ready, you need to heat just a little bit until it is lukewarm. The liquid cannot be too hot or too cold because it can cause episodes of severe vertigo.
  3. When the mixture is warm, lie on your side on your bed with the ear you want to uncover facing up. In this position, stretch your ear to open your ear canal and pour out the liquid with the help of an eyedropper until the cavity is filled.
  4. Soak for at least 10 minutes with the liquid inside your ear. If you use hydrogen peroxide, it is normal to feel bubbles in the additive cavity.
  5. Stretch your ear again and tilt your head so that the ear spills all the liquid, preferably on a towel or container. If you feel that the ear is still plugged, you can repeat the procedure.
  6. Dry your ear well to avoid leaving any trace of solution inside.

If, after doing this remedy for plugged ears, you do not notice any improvement, you must make an appointment with your doctor to check your hearing organ and discover the cause of the pierced ears.

Atmospheric pressure plugged ears remedy.

The best way to treat ears plugged by atmospheric pressure is to prevent clogging. To do this, follow the following recommendations:

  • You must avoid falling asleep when the plane lands or takes off during a plane trip, as this increases the chances that your ears will plug. Instead of sleeping, drink plenty of water or chew gum, so that jaw movement and hydration prevent the Eustachian tube from collapsing.
  • When you are in the sea, avoid diving suddenly; on the contrary, descend little by little so that your ears gradually get used to the pressure from outside.
  • If you know that you will be subject to changes in atmospheric pressure and your ears, tend to plug easily, try taking a pain reliever for the flu two hours before.
  • If your ears are plugged, try chewing gum, drinking water, or tasting candy again. Opening and closing your mouth is also helpful.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Plugged Ears: Causes and Remedies , we recommend that you enter our Ear, Nose and Throat category .

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