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7 reasons for ear clogging
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7 reasons for ear clogging

Here are seven common reasons for ear clogging
ear clogging
Representational image | Canva

Imagine being on an aircraft, and as you ascend, you experience a blockage in your ears. Chewing gum or yawning would not completely make things better, and everything around you might sound submerged.

Our ears might malfunction for a number of causes other than altitude. It may take several hours or even days for this blocked feeling to leave our ears. The good news is that professionals can assist in making the alleviation procedure easier.

Here are seven common reasons for ear clogging.

1. Earwax buildup (cerumen impaction)

Earwax build-up, known as cerumen impaction, can result in ear clogging as the wax accumulates and hardens, obstructing the ear canal. “To prevent this, it is advisable to avoid using cotton swabs and allow the ear to naturally clean itself,” says Dr Apoorva Reddy, senior endoscopic sinus surgeon (ENT) and head and neck oncosurgeon, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad. Additionally, the use of ear drops for wax softening can facilitate its removal. In cases where ear irrigation or manual removal is necessary, consult an ENT specialist, says Dr Reddy.

2. Ear infections

Ear infections can contribute to ear clogging by inducing inflammation and fluid accumulation, resulting in a sense of fullness. To prevent such occurrences, Dr Reddy says it is essential to maintain dry ears. “Refrain from inserting objects into the ear, and promptly address any signs of ear infections.”

3. Eustachian tube dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to a blocked sensation in the ear as it hampers pressure equalisation. To prevent this, chewing gum, swallowing, and yawning can aid in maintaining proper pressure. “In cases where dysfunction persists, treatment options include the use of nasal decongestants, antihistamines, or, in severe instances, surgical intervention to address the underlying issue and restore normal eustachian tube function,” says Dr Reddy.

4. Foreign objects

Foreign objects lodged in the ear can result in a physical blockage, leading to ear clogging. To prevent such occurrences, it is important to keep small objects out of reach and avoid inserting any foreign items such as safety pins into the ear.

5. Allergies

Allergic reactions can contribute to ear clogging by inducing inflammation and fluid retention in the ears. “To mitigate this, it is crucial to proactively manage allergies, avoid triggers, and incorporate the use of antihistamines in supervision of an expert,” says Dr Reddy. Furthermore, he says, in cases where ear blockage persists due to allergies, comprehensive treatment involves ongoing allergy management, continued use of antihistamines to alleviate inflammation and promote relief.

6. Barotrauma

Sudden pressure changes, as experienced in activities like scuba diving, can lead to ear trauma and subsequent clogging. To prevent such issues, it is important to equalise pressure during changes and avoid diving with nasal congestion. “While ear trauma often resolves on its own, severe cases may need medical intervention,” says Dr Reddy.

7. Water in the ear

Prolonged exposure to water can result in ear clogging due to swelling and infection. To prevent this,  individuals are advised to use earplugs while swimming and  tilt the head to facilitate water drainage after swimming, says Dr Reddy. To unclog the ears, the recommended treatment includes thoroughly drying the ear, using ear drops for moisture control, and addressing any concurrent infections through appropriate medical intervention.

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