Most people have experienced that strange feeling of their hearing being muffled at some point in their lives. It can feel as if you have put something in your ears or covered them with your hands. But there is nothing obvious that is blocking your ear canals, so why is it happening?
Your hearing is muffled because your ears are clogged and this can happen as a result of:
Colds, allergies and nasal infections can all create swelling in your sinus cavities. This can cause swelling in the Eustachian tubes which put excessive pressure on your eardrum. Along with that all-too-familiar clogged sensation, it can also be painful and lead to temporary hearing loss. But while it may not be very pleasant to experience, sinus pressure should only be a temporary problem. The symptoms should soon pass and your hearing returns to normal. If you have allergies you may find antihistamines can help relieve some of your symptoms.
Many people have gone home after a rock concert or night out in a club only to experience clogged ears, muffled hearing and even ringing in the ears (tinnitus) afterwards. This is noise-induced hearing loss and is a common consequence of being exposed to excessive noise. It can also happen if you listen to very loud music through earbuds.
In most cases, symptoms will go after 48 hours however prolonged exposure can have a permanent impact on your hearing. The best remedy for this is to avoid excessively loud noise above 85 decibels. If this isn’t always possible, then shield your hearing with protective hearing devices or taking breaks from the loud noise.
Often referred to as swimmer’s ear, you may be familiar with that feeling of fluid trapped in your ear after you’ve been swimming. It can also happen after bathing or if you have been exposed to a very moist environment. The fluid should normally drain within a day. But if symptoms persist or you are experiencing severe pain in your ears or discharge, you should schedule a consultation with a hearing care professional or your doctor. It could be that you have an ear infection.
You can help to drain the fluid out of your ears by tilting your head to one side and gently pull on your earlobe. Yawning, chewing or just moving your jaw can also help to encourage the fluid out of your ear.
If you fly regularly you’ll know that feeling of when your ears start to feel clogged just after take-off. It occurs when there is a change of altitude and the air pressure outside your body is different from the pressure in your body. This causes that familiar feeling of pressure in your ear.
To clear the clogged feeling and get your ears feeling back to normal, trying swallowing or yawning a few times. This will help to equalise the air pressure by opening the Eustachian tubes which connect the ear and throat. Some people also find it helpful to chew gum during a flight as this encourages them to swallow regularly.
Impacted earwax is when the wax has built up over time in your ear creating that clogged feeling. It’s a common cause of temporary hearing loss and can be very uncomfortable. The safest and most effective way to remove the impacted earwax is for it to be treated by your doctor or hearing care professional. Don’t be tempted to use ear swabs to dig around in your ear canal as this will only push the earwax deeper into your ear and could damage your ear, hearing and cause infections.
If the clogged sensation continues or you experience sudden hearing loss, discharge or pain, then you should arrange to see your doctor. It could be some other underlying reason to your clogged ears and may not be effectively treated with a clogged ear remedy.
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