Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) is the most prevalent cause for ears that feel clogged or plugged. The Eustachian tube attaches the back end of the nose to the middle of the ear. It protects, airs out, and removes liquid from the middle ear to maintain the same amount of air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. It typically remains closed unless we are chewing, swallowing, or yawning.
ETD occurs when something blocks the Eustachian Tube from opening and closing. The symptoms of ETD may consist of a feeling of fullness inside the ear, faint hearing abilities, and/or irritation caused by a variation of air pressure between the middle section of the ear and the ear canal.
The causes of Plugged Ears
There are various explanations for ETD: feelings of congestion from a cold, allergies, earwax build up, ear infections, inflamed sinuses (or sinusitis), enlarged adenoids, altitude changes like flying in an airplane or when driving up to mountainous regions, or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder - a disorder which may cause aches in your jaw joint and muscles that control the movement of your jaw.
Symptoms and Solutions for Clogged Ears
The symptoms of ETD consist of aural fullness faint/muffled hearing and/or discomfort.
Different ways to open the Eustachian Tube include: chewing gum, yawning, the Toynbee Maneuver (swallowing while the nose is pinched closed), and the Valsalva Maneuver (lightly blowing the nose as it is pinched shut with the mouth closed). The objective is to balance the air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. You will know that the Eustachian Tubes open, when you hear a popping sound or feel a popping sensation in your ears.
If ETD lingers for a couple more days, or you notice other problems, for instance abrupt differences in hearing, dizziness, vertigo, pain, fever, liquid draining from the ear, or tinnitus please make an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can.
For more information in regards to hearing issues, please contact one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.