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What's Behind the Clogged Ear Feeling

man holding his ears in discomfort

Summertime at the pool or the beach is time well spent. But, it doesn’t come without its disadvantages. The risk of sunburn is at the top of the list of annoyances, but clogged ears from trapped water comes in a close second. That feeling like your ears are clogged after spending a lot of time in the water can be one of the most irritating feelings, and often takes a while to go away.
But you don’t have to just be a swimmer to experience the feeling of clogged ears. That stuffy ear experience can happen as a result of other conditions too and could be an indicator of more serious issues if left untreated.
Here are some of the most common causes behind that clogged ear feeling, and what you can do about them:
Trapped Fluid
Fluid that becomes trapped in the ear as a result of swimming or ear infection can become very painful, especially if it gets behind the eardrum into the middle ear.  Although plenty of earwax in the ear works hard to keep water out, sometimes water sneaks in, especially if a lot of time is spent in the pool or other types of water.
Typically the body will relieve the issue on its own and the fluid will eventually drain. But, if it does not and you are experiencing severe pain or consistent discharge that lasts more than a day, call the doctor and get it checked out.
In the meantime, if you feel water has creeped into your ear during your last swim, tilt your head, and pull down on your earlobe for a while to help water flow back out. You may also need to help open up your eustachian tubes to let water trapped behind the eardrum drain. Try using a warm compress to assist in that, or yawn repeatedly, chew gum, or breathe deeply.
Earwax Buildup
Earwax can occasionally build up, causing that irritating clogged feeling. But, earwax buildup can also cause earaches, ringing in the ear (called Tinnitus), itchy ears, discharge, odor, hearing loss, and coughing.
Normally you shouldn’t need to do anything about earwax, because it takes care of itself and makes its way out of the ear when needed. But sometimes, it builds up and needs to be removed with some help. Never attempt to remove earwax on your own, especially if that involves inserting anything at all into your ear canal. You can run the very real risk of puncturing or damaging your eardrum by doing this.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Leaving your ears unprotected to noise levels above 85 decibels will cause damage to your inner ear over time, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss. Noise exposure for longer than a brief moment, such as a loud concert venue or a party may leave you with a feeling your ears are clogged, or an annoying ringing in your ears.
This may be temporary and fade away within a day or two. But, repeated exposure is certain to cause some degree of hearing loss. Protect yourself in advance by wearing earplugs when you’re involved in any loud activities.
If you’re experiencing a clogged or stuffy feeling in your ears that just won’t go away, please don’t hesitate to call our office today to talk to a hearing health professional.