Plugged ears and how to get rid of them.


Blockages in the ears can be due to a number of reasons, including fluid in the ear , changes in atmospheric pressure, excessive earwax, or objects that are blocking the eardrum. Each cause has its own treatment.

If you are unsure about the causes of your discomfort, it is worth asking for a professional opinion. This will help you quickly resolve the problem and avoid potential complications.

Illustration by Emily Roberts, Get Drug Information

Fluid in the ear

Ear blockages can result from a buildup of fluid in the Eustachian tube , also known as the Eustachian tube . The auditory tube usually carries unwanted waste, including fluid and mucus from the ears, to the back of the throat, where it is swallowed. But sometimes it can get clogged and fluid can get into the middle ear.


Conditions that can cause obstruction of the auditory tube can include enlarged structures such as the tonsils , adenoids, and turbinates , or severe nasal congestion . Ears usually close for a time after a severe cold and can also be caused by allergies.

Fluid in the ear is more likely to cause blockages in children because their auditory tube is smaller and naturally more horizontal than the adult's auditory tube .


Although your ears may feel blocked, there are usually few or no symptoms of ear fluid. However, this can lead to hearing loss. If not diagnosed in young children, it can lead to delayed speech. In severe cases, there may be pain or pressure in the ear , dizziness or loss of balance ( vertigo ), and delayed gross motor skills (in young children).

Watch out

If you do not have unpleasant symptoms or if the patient is a child who is not at risk for developmental delays, your healthcare provider may choose to monitor the fluid at three to six month intervals to see if it clears up. own.

The best treatment for chronic ear obstructions is placing auditory tubes (ventilation tubes) with a myringotomy procedure.

Myringotomy and tympanostomy tube placement is a common procedure performed under anesthesia in which a small hole is made in the eardrum and synthetic tubes are placed in the Eustachian tube to keep it open. This tube allows the fluid to drain. The hole in the eardrum heals on its own in a few days and the synthetic tubes fall out without intervention after about a year.

Height changes

Ear blocks can be caused by rapid changes in ambient pressure and pressure on the ear tube, known as barotrauma. Together with the eardrum, the auditory tube helps balance the pressure between the middle and outer ear .

This is why your ears can feel blocked when you climb steep mountains or take off in a plane. It can also happen during diving and, if not taken with precautions, can lead to serious injury to the ears, such as a ruptured eardrum .

The best way to prevent barotrauma and help congestion in the ears due to elevation changes is to swallow, chew, or yawn frequently. This opens your normally coiled ear tube, allowing outside air to enter your ear.

You can also try an over-the-counter decongestant if you usually have trouble clearing your ears when you change height; Do it an hour before the start of the descent. If you are allergic, use your allergy medicine at the beginning of the flight.

If you experience pain, fluid discharge, or significant hearing loss, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Excessive wax

Occasionally ear blockages can be caused by too much wax . This is not a common problem as the ears generally have their own built-in cleaning system, but for unknown reasons, a certain percentage of the population may have excess earwax production.

Do not try to remove excess earwax yourself; let your doctor remove it with special equipment to avoid damaging your eardrum and pushing the wax further into your ear. The FDA also warned against the use of ear suppositories.

Your healthcare professional may use one of the following methods to remove excess earwax:

  • Rinse the ear with water.
  • Remove it with a special tool called a sulfur curette or spoon.
  • Use ear drops formulated to dissolve the wax.

Strange object

It is not uncommon for young children to put things in their ears. It can come from curiosity or from a friend's call, such as a strange stuffy nose .

Depending on your age, the only clue you may have is constantly rubbing your ears and grimacing. With foreign objects, your child will not have a fever or any symptoms of a cold , unless the blockage manifests long enough to cause an infection.

You can use a flashlight to look, but you don't need to remove the foreign object yourself. Never insert anything sharp into your ear when trying to remove a foreign object.

It is best to travel to the pediatrician's office, where specialized equipment can help the doctor to view and remove the item safely.

If you notice fluid leaking from the ears or a bad odor, your child should see a doctor immediately.

Get Meds Info Word

The constant feeling of congestion in the ears can be confusing. Providing appropriate treatment for any of the above reasons will help prevent long-term complications, such as developmental delay or hearing loss. If you ever hear a clicking sound accompanied by pain, see fluid leaking from your ear, or your hearing or balance changes suddenly, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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