What Can I Do if My Ear is Clogged and I Can’t Hear?

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a woman with mild hearing loss

There are several reasons why your ear(s) could become clogged. In some cases, the feeling of your ear being clogged can make it difficult to hear. 

But, if you’ve safely cleaned your ears and the sound around you still seems muffled or you can’t hear people speaking the way you’re used to, it could be a sign of something more going on. 

Four of the most common reasons why ears feel clogged are: 

  • Impacted wax
  • Sinus pressure
  • Fluid within the ear
  • Noise damage

Let’s look a bit more about what causes these problems and what you can do to treat them, so you can find relief and start hearing clearly again. 

Impacted wax

Earwax is an interesting thing, because its main purpose is actually to protect your ear from things like dirt and pollutants while acting as a lubricant. 

Typically, earwax comes out of the ear canal on its own. But there are occasions when wax becomes impacted within the ear canal, and that can cause a problem with your hearing. The good news? You can usually tell if it’s earwax that’s causing your hearing and clogging issues thanks to a few telltale signs, including: 

  • Earaches
  • The feeling of something stuck in your ear
  • Ringing in the ear or tinnitus
  • Itching or odor from the ear
  • Frequent coughing

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance impacted wax is the issue affecting your ability to hear

Sinus pressure

When most people think of sinus issues, the first thing that comes to mind is a plugged nose and maybe itchy, watery eyes. But your sinuses impact your ears as well, and sinus pressure can make your ears feel clogged. This is caused by inflammation that pushes on the eardrum, causing pressure. 

With that kind of pressure against your eardrum, it can make it difficult to hear people or sounds around you, almost as if you’re listening to things underwater. 

Most sinus issues go away on their own with time. Everything from the weather to underlying health issues can cause them to come and go. 

Fluid within the ear

You don’t have to be a swimmer to get water trapped inside your ear. It can occur from an ear infection, or even from bathing/showering. 

When fluid gets trapped in the ear, it can give you a feeling of the ear being clogged, but it can also make it hard to hear. Most of the time, the fluid will drain or break apart on its own. In some cases, though, you may need to help it along by using a warm compress or tilting your head to the side and gently tugging on your earlobe. 

Noise damage

Noise damage is often referred to as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). It can be caused by long-term exposure to loud, noisy situations or even a one-time blast of noise that damages the eardrum. 

Not only can noise damage cause your ears to feel clogged, but it can create tinnitus or ringing in the ear. Sometimes, the symptoms of noise damage will go away on their own. But, prolonged exposure to loud situations can cause more permanent damage. 

If your hearing loss or clogged feeling is related to noise damage, you may benefit from seeing a hearing instrument specialist (HIS). 

Hearing loss from long-term noise damage likely won’t get better on its own. With the help of a hearing instrument specialist, you can find a treatment option that works best for you. In many cases, that might mean using a hearing aid. There are a few different styles of hearing aids to choose from, including behind the ear, in the canal, and in the ear hearing aids

A hearing instrument specialist will walk you through the ins and outs of each type of hearing aid to help you determine which one will fit your needs. Some are meant for more mild cases of hearing loss, while others are designed to amplify things more for those who have a harder time hearing the world around them and conversations. 

As you can see, most of the reasons for a clogged ear are relatively harmless, and many of them can be treated over time or will go away on their own. But, if you can’t seem to get rid of the clogged feeling in your ear and it’s affecting your hearing, feel free to contact Nobile Hearing Aids at 239-772-8101 for more information or with any questions you might have. Our team is here to help!