When To See A Doctor For Clogged Ears
As you can see, many of the reasons for clogged ears are not generally a cause for concern. But it’s smart to consult a doctor if you have:
- Any ear discomfort that lasts more than two weeks
- Hearing loss. It can be hard to tell the difference between actual hearing loss and the reduced hearing that naturally goes along with clogged ears. Dr. Ying has a way to tell the difference. “Ask a friend to call you, and put your phone next to your ear on maximum volume. Is your hearing just dampened â or do you have no idea at all what they’re saying?”
What Is That Clogging My Ears
Its been a couple of days. Your right ear is still totally clogged. You havent been able to hear anything in that direction since yesterday morning. Youre left feeling off balance as your left ear works overtime to compensate. It didnt clear up after a nights sleep as you hoped it would. So, how long will your blocked ear last?
Exactly how long your blockage will persist depends, not unexpectedly, on what the cause of the blockage is. Some blockages go away by themselves and fairly quickly at that others could linger and require medical treatment.
You shouldnt allow your blockage to linger for more than a week, as a rule of thumb, without getting it checked.
Patulous Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
PETD is a disorder of the valve in the Eustachian tube that prevents it from closing. One of the main signs of PETD is a feeling of fullness in the ear, says Dr. Seidman. The other, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is the disconcerting ability to hear your own voice too loudly, and your breathing, stomach churning and blood pumping very clearly.
âFix it:â Again, if more common causes for your ear discomfort have been eliminated, and you suspect you may have PETD, contact an otolaryngologist for diagnosis and treatment.
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When To Call Your Doctor
Most of the time, these are all safe and effective methods, Dr. Goldman says, but depending on the cause, these methods be unsafe and could even cause damage.
If youre traveling in high altitude changes or know youre in the midst of an allergic flare-up, your clogged ears likely arent a problem and should resolve pretty quickly. But clogged ears that persist or are accompanied by other symptoms can indicate a more serious issue. Pay attention to issues like:
Replace Hearing Aid Tubing
With BTE and RIC hearing aids, the tube connecting the main body of the hearing aid to the receiver can become damaged. When the tubing does become damaged or clogged with debris, it can cause occlusion.
There are at-home tools you can use to help clear out a clog. Bt if your hearing aid tubing has become damaged, you can always come to visit our hearing aid clinic to have the tubing replaced.
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Symptoms That Are Likely To Show Up
When your ears get clogged, you tend to show certain symptoms that affect you in one way or the other. Some of these common symptoms include:
- Popping sound in your ear
- Buzzing, ringing, wheezing and thumping in the ear
- Pain in the outer and inner ear
- The high temperature in the ear
- Reduced hearing capability
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms that are mentioned above, you must seek treatment immediately from a professional doctor who specializes in ENT .
However, there are also some simple methods which you can follow in order to effectively treat the problems that you experience in your ears.
What Are Blocked Eustachian Tubes
When you swallow or yawn, the tubes open briefly to let air in to make the pressure in the middle ears equal to the pressure outside of the ears. Sometimes fluid or negative pressure gets stuck in the middle ear. The pressure outside the ear gets too high. This blockage causes ear pain and sometimes trouble hearing.
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How To Treat Blocked Ears
- Steam inhalation. This can help to loosen anything that is physically blocking the ear, such as ear wax. All you need to do is turn the shower on to hot and sit in the steamy room for 10-15 minutes. A warm flannel over the ear can also help.
- Open up your Eustachian tubes. The Valsalva Maneuver can be used to do this – close your mouth, take a deep breath through your nose and then pinch your nose shut. Try to gently exhale through your nose and you should feel a pop as your ears unclog. Avoid blowing too hard or you could damage the eardrum.
- Ear drops and medication. Decongestants, cold or sinus medication, as well as antihistamines if your ear blockage is caused by allergies, can all be useful when it comes to dealing with this kind of issue in the ears. Ear drops can also be effective if you are having problems with ear wax, as they will soften any hardened wax in the ear and can help to naturally remove it.
- See a doctor. If youve tried home remedies and none have worked, or youre getting consistent pain and other symptoms such as a fever, then seeing an ENT specialist could be essential.
Blocked ears could have a number of causes and there are many different ways to treat this problem. As always, be sure to get in touch with the Harley Street ENT clinic to resolve ear blockages and alternative ear, nose and throat related issues you may have.
Can You Prevent Fluid In The Ear
These steps may help to prevent fluid from collecting in the ear:
- Quit smoking and try not to be around cigarette smoke.
- Stay allergy-free. Avoid substances that trigger your allergies .
- Limit exposure. If your child is in daycare, consider switching to a smaller daycare .
- Keep things clean. Wash your hands and your childs toys frequently.
- Avoid overusing antibiotics. Don’t take antibiotics if you don’t need to and don’t take them for longer than is necessary. For example, If you have a viral infection, antibiotics won’t help.
- Consider breastfeeding if possible, even for just a few weeks. Infants who are breastfed get sick less often and are less likely to get ear infections even years later.
- Stay up to date on vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent the most common type of ear infection. Getting a yearly flu shot may help as well.
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How To Relieve Pressure When You Have A Middle Ear Infection:
Antibiotics: Sometimes an ear infection clears up on its own within two or three days, but antibiotics are usually required such as amoxicillin. If you have an ear infection of the ear canal, antibiotic ear drops like Cortisporin or Ciprodex are recommended.
OTC pain relievers: Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
In some cases, ear infections can cause a rupture or hole to form in the eardrum, which can also cause a sensation of fullness even after the infection has resolved due to the hearing loss, Adams said.
A ruptured ear drum usually heals within a few weeks and might not need treatment. But its a good idea to see your provider if you think your eardrum has burst. In addition to ear pressure, symptoms could include sharp ear pain that subsides quickly, drainage, tinnitus or hearing loss.
When Should I Worry About A Clogged Ear
You will most likely begin to think about the cause of your blockage after about two days. Youll probably start thinking about your activities for the last couple of days: for instance, did you get water in your ear somehow?
How about the condition of your health? Are you suffering from any symptoms of an ear infection? You may want to schedule an appointment if thats the case.
Those questions are actually just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of potential causes for a blocked ear:
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Does Clogged Ear Go Away On Its Own
As mentioned, a clogged ear can go away on its own, but this will depend on its cause. If your sensations are down to a cold or flu, it is worth trying some home remedies and seeing if your symptoms disappear as you start to feel better. If you have something in your ear, this will need to be removed. Take note of how long you have had symptoms for and if they continue for more than ten days, you should see a doctor.
Of course, if you experience severe pain, discharge, or hearing loss you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Changes In Atmospheric Pressure
Changes in altitude can also cause clogged ears . This is because changes in ambient pressure can affect your Eustachian tube which helps to equalize the pressure between your middle ear and outer ear. At higher altitudes, the Eustachian tube struggles to equalize pressure properly, so you feel the change in air pressure in your ears.
You might have experienced popping in your ears during lift-off on a flight, if you have gone scuba diving, or if you have done a similar rapid-pressure-changing activity recently. Usually, the sensation clears shortly after the triggering activity, but sometimes your ears cant re-adjust to atmospheric pressure this can cause clogged ears.
The worst-case scenario is that changes in atmospheric pressure lead to a ruptured eardrum.
Youll certainly know if your clogged ears are caused by altitude if you also begin to develop the symptoms of high altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, and shortness of breath.
To prevent ear clogging due to atmospheric pressure changes, you need to let air in and open up your Eustachian tube by swallowing, chewing, or yawning frequently. You can also take a decongestant before a flight if you tend to struggle with this.
If you have clogged ears due to altitude and start to experience pain, fluid drainage, or significant hearing loss, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
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Reducing Ear Pressure When Youre Sick
Now that Halloween is just a week away, you have probably settled into your normal fall routine. Which means youve probably already dealt with your first cold of the season. There are likely to be more to come, so get used to the symptomsand be prepared to go on the defensive when illness strikes.
So How Do I Treat This Feeling Of Blocked Ears
For an ear blocked with wax, a good first step is to try ear wax softening drops. Ear wax softening drops can be used ONLY if there is no perforation of the ear drum . Ear wax softening drops, normally purchased from your local chemist, are used to both soften and disintegrate the wax built up within your ear canal. They are often used in combination with other wax removal techniques such as micro suction and curettage, to assist in a quicker and more gentle removal of wax. Softening drops may lead to a gap being created in the wax, which may provide some temporary relief with respect to the blockage prior to manual removal and on occasion may also lead to a complete resolution of impacted wax. This is more likely when the volume of wax is minimal. Always ensure to have your ear checked by a professional afterwards to ensure no wax has remained in the ear canal.
If your symptoms dont subside following the use of ear-softening drops, you should consult a professional. The wax may be too large, deep or dry for the softening drops to be effective, and wax may need to be removed using the micro-suction and curettage technique.
This procedure is administered by a qualified, registered nurse who uses small instruments and gentle suction to remove it from the ear. Symptom relief is normally immediate. Education is then provided on what can be done to prevent symptoms from recurring.
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An Irritation Youre Unaware Of
Believe it or not, “an external canal irritant” that keeps occurring can eventually lead to an infection and a feeling of fullness in the irritated ear, says Dr. Ying. “Many people have habits they aren’t aware of, where they scratch their ear with pens or scrape them with bobby pins or brushes when styling their hair.”
Beauty products, like hair dye, shampoo and sunscreen that get into the ear, can be to blame for blocked ears as well.
âFix it:â Be aware of how you touch your ears and what you touch them with, advises Dr. Ying. If you notice your ear feels full or swollen not long after you try a new hair or skin product, that may be the culprit. Check with a doctor to be sure, though.
When Should I See A Doctor
If your clogged ears dont clear on their own, appropriate treatment from a doctor might be required to prevent any long-term complications such as hearing loss.
If you hear a popping sound, have severe pain, see fluid draining from the ear, have sudden changes in your hearing or balance, or experience hearing loss, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
To learn more about the causes of clogged ears, see our other blog articles.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources:
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Symptoms Of Blocked Ears
Accumulation of earwax caused by failure of the self-cleaning mechanism or pushing earwax down the ear canal through improper wax removal methods is one of the most common reasons patients seek medical care for ear-related problems and a feeling of blocked ears. Once earwax reaches a point where the eardrum can no longer be viewed, or you are experiencing symptoms related to wax build up, removal of excess ear wax is clinically indicated.
In addition to a feeling of blockage related to wax build up, you may also experience:
Our clients often describe waking up with a blocked ear, hearing noises in the ear over the course of the morning leading to the ear eventually unblocking, but again the ear re-blocks overnight. This is because movement of the soft, outer part of the ear through chewing and talking causes the wax to move which creates temporary gaps in the wax and allows sound to travel down the ear canal to the drum through the gaps.
Blockage Due To Foreign Object
You can do the following things at home as first aid for a foreign object in the ear:
- if the object is visible, carefully use tweezers to gently remove it
- tilt your head to the side to use gravity to remove the object
- try to wash the object out using a small syringe with warm water to gently irrigate the ear canal
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What Are The Causes Of Clogged Ears
Eustachian tube blockage. The eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the throat, can become blocked when fluid or mucus is trapped. Oftentimes, this occurs when experiencing seasonal allergies, a cold or sinus or ear infection. Swimmers ear is another condition that blocks eustachian tubes and is caused when bacteria or fungus grows in the ear canal. If the clogged ear is paired with ear pain, redness, fluid drainage or fever, be sure to contact your doctor since it is likely an ear infection that may need medical attention.
Hardened earwax or earwax impaction. Earwax is essential in protecting your ear canal by preventing dust or debris to enter your ear canal. One of the common ways that earwax creates a clogged ear is when a cotton swab is used to clean the ear. Instead of cleaning it, the earwax can be pushed further down, causing a clogged ear. At times, earwax can also become hardened and prevent the ear from hearing correctly. If you are also having dizziness or ringing in the ears, this is likely attributed to earwax impaction. Earwax impaction can lead to short-term hearing loss, but if not treated, it can also lead to otitis external.
When Youre Sick With Something Like A Cold Flu Or Sinus Infection
The eustachian tubes can start to have problems with drainage and air pressure balance when you have a cold or sinus issues. When the tubes are partially blocked, its much harder for fluid to flow down the back of your throat.
Since the eustachian tubes empty into the back of the nose, anything that causes swelling in this area can cause swelling around the opening of the eustachian tubes, Adams said. When this swelling occurs, it blocks off the opening of the eustachian tubes so you can start to develop pressure behind the ear drum and in some cases, fluid buildup as well.
In addition, these illnesses can also cause a stuffy nose, postnasal drip, cough, headache and a host of other symptoms.
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Diagnosing Fluid In The Ears
Fluid in the ear often goes undiagnosed because it may not cause any symptoms. If your child has symptoms but you’re not sure what could be causing the fluid build-up in their ears, they should see their pediatrician or an ear, nose, and throat specialist .
A specialist may have better diagnostic equipment to figure out what’s causing the fluid buildup in a child’s ear. More importantly, a specialist’s experience helps them recognize subtle clues that could mean there’s fluid trapped in the ear.