If you’ve noticed you’re having to turn up the sound on the TV more often, or you’re straining to hear conversations you might be suffering from clogged ears. While some cases are minor and will often resolve themselves, there are some instances where muffled hearing may require medical attention.
Ears feel clogged can occur because of a number of reasons. Even though it may not cause pain or discomfort, it may cause muffled sounds and straining to the hearing which can become a nuisance.
According to the CDC nearly 16% of adults in the U.S. report hearing trouble with the prevalence of hearing loss twice as common as diabetes or cancer.
If your ears feel clogged, here are three of the top reasons why.
- Eustachian tube blockage
An Eustachian tube blockage is one possible cause of a clogged ear. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the throat. Fluid and mucus flows from the ear to the back of the throat through this tube, where it’s swallowed.
This blockage usually accompanies an infection, such as the common cold, influenza, or sinusitis. Allergic rhinitis can also cause a blockage in the Eustachian tube.
Unblocking the Eustachian tube is important because trapped fluid can cause an ear infection, which is when a bacteria or viral infection gets into the middle ear.
- Higher altitude
If you’ve been at a higher altitude, whether it’s in an airplane or even driving up into the mountains, a rapid change in air pressure outside the body can cause temporary ear clogging.
The Eustachian tube is responsible for equalizing pressure in the middle ear. But at higher altitudes, it can’t always equalize pressure properly. As a result, the change in air pressure is felt in the ears feel clogged. A clogged ear is sometimes the only side effect of an altitude change. If you develop high altitude sickness, you may also have a headache, nausea, or shortness of breath.
Earwax is a naturally occurring bodily fluid. Helping to protect the ear canal by cleansing it and preventing debris from entering the ear. Wax is normally soft, but it can harden and cause a blockage in the ear canal.
If your ears feel clogged with earwax, you may also experience an earache, ringing in the ears and dizziness.
Whilst your ear may unblock on its own within hours or days, if it doesn’t resolve even after over-the-counter treatment, it might be time for a hearing test to rule out anything serious.