Clogged ear is also called by other names like plugged ear, ear fullness and closed ear, which is one of the prominent effect of severe cold and flu. The Eustachian tube inside the ear is the region that connects the ear to the throat and it allows the excess of fluid from the ear to drain into the throat. Due to some reason, the fluid gets blocked up forcing the middle ear to get infected with virus or bacteria causing swelling and pain. Clogged ear is formed due to many reasons like building of was inside and infection.
Ear canal has number of hair follicles inside and the glands produce a special fluid like wax called cerumen. This wax is responsible for protecting the ear from dust and bacterial infection. Further it serves as a shield for preventing irritation of ear canal when water enters into it accidentally. The excess of wax is often pushed out of the opening of the ear while washing. However for some people excess of wax is produced which would harden the ear canal thus blocking it. When you try to take the wax out, you may push it deep inside causing clogging ears.
When you are traveling by air, you may have felt blocking of ear when the plane takes off or lands. This is due to variation of pressure inside the ear and outside (in the atmosphere). This kind of blocking of ear will automatically get relieved after few minutes.
It can also be caused due to nerve blockage in the ear, infection caused by virus or bacteria and sometimes due to unusual growth of ear bones.
Severe cold and hay fever can also cause clogged ears due to the infection caused by range of problems. It can be due to chronic infection of middle ear, otitis externa (swimmer’s ear), otitis media (middle ear infection) and upper respiratory tract UTI infection. Sometime, it can be caused due to Eustachian tube block, exposure to loud noise and presence of foreign particles in the outer ear canal.
Some of the common symptoms associated with clogged ear are ear pain ranging from mild to moderate, bleeding of ears, and fluid like discharge from the ear, partial loss of hearing, dizziness and loss of balance. For some people, there may be ringing or vibrating sound in the ear called tinnitus.
You may feel that the affected ear is feeling full and clogged causing discomfort. Itching sensation of ears, pus like secretion oozing out of ear and redness with swelling of ear are observed due to clogged ear. In severe cases, there may be body pain, fever and lethargic feeling.
Home Remedies :
Home treatment is not recommended for clearing clogged ears since it may worsen the situation doing no good. It may give rise to serious infection causing more injury to the blocked ear.
Be careful while using home remedies and in case of ear pain you need to consult your doctor immediately. Applying baby oil or glycerin on the ear will provide relief from clogged ears. Olive oil or hydrogen peroxide solution can also be used. You need to apply 2-3 drops of oil carefully using ear dropped. This would soften the hardened wax which would gradually be expelled out.
Eating chewing gum can put extra pressure on the ears giving relief from clogging. In case the blockage is due to sinusitis, you can blow your nose well enough to get relief from ear block.
Some people use lidocaine which is a type of anesthesia that will reduce pain in clogged ears. It numbs the ear temporarily when you apply ear block lidocaine which is available over the counter.
Medical Treatment :
Your doctor will first examine the ear and find out the exact cause of pain and clogging. He may use curette to blow out wax from the ear for getting quick relief. Curette is a type of tool devised with flexibility for getting inside the ear easily to remove the wax.
Your doctor may use rubber syringe for washing out excess of wax from the blocked ear. Ear drops are prescribed to soften the wax and to reduce swelling and discomfort.
You need to follow the advice of your doctor for getting rid of wax and do not use any drops on your own. Giving over dosage of ear drops to the ear may cause irritation on the ear lining and hence self medication is not recommended for solving ear problems.