Causes and Treatment of Plugged Ears
Do you constantly feel like your ears are plugged up, or that lately you aren’t hearing as well? There are many causes of plugged ears, and there is something that you can do about it, if you visit your doctor.
Plugged ears should not be a constant ongoing thing. At best, it should be a temporary problem that has an underlying cause. When the underlying cause is addressed, the ears should no longer feel plugged, and your hearing should return to normal. Allergies or a cold are the most common causes of plugged ears. (For the rest of this article please scroll to the bottom of this page).
Plugged ears typically mean that the tube that runs from your middle ear to the back of your nose has become plugged – usually with mucus or ear wax. This is called the Eustachian tube, and each ear has one. When the Eustachian tube is plugged, the ear drum cannot vibrate as it normally would. Sounds become obscure, and there may even be pain when sounds are made. Often, people will try to ‘pop’ their ears. This means that you take a deep breath, hold your nose, keep your mouth closed holding the air in, and then act as though you are trying to blow the air out, without releasing it. If you feel or hear a popping noise, you’ve succeeded. If not, your ears will still be plugged.
Aside from trying to pop your ears, you can also use a decongestant, taken orally. You can also try nasal sprays and topical nasal steroids. If nothing you try works, visit your doctor, as ventilation tubes may be needed to relieve pressure and drain fluid.
Do not pour anything into your ear without your doctor telling you to do so. Do not stick anything, such as a q-tip, into the ear canal. This is very dangerous, and could make the problem worse. You could also damage your eardrum irreparably, causing permanent hearing loss. If the problem persists, or continues to return often, your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for more intense treatment.
Remember that the ears are typically self-cleaning. While it is wise to use a towel or a q-tip to wipe or dry the exterior of the ear – getting into those curves on the outer ear, it is never wise to stick anything into the canal of the ear. Otherwise, let your ear do its own cleaning – although you can let clean water run into your ears in the shower.