Why do I Feel Like I Have a Blocked Ear?

Marjorie McAtee

Blocked ear symptoms can occur for a number of reasons, including wax accumulation in the ear canal or fluid build up due to ear infection. Foreign objects can cause blocked ear symptoms if they become lodged inside the ear. Allergies, sinus infections, and even problems with the temporomandibular joint can cause feelings of having a blocked ear. Injuries to the ear, especially from sudden atmospheric pressure changes, can also cause ear blockage symptoms. In some cases,eustachian tube dysfunction may be responsible for feelings of blockage in the ear.

A reduction in hearing may be the first sign of a blocked ear.
A reduction in hearing may be the first sign of a blocked ear.

The most widely experienced symptom of ear blockage may well be a reduction in hearing. Depending upon the cause of ear blockage, pain, discharge, dizziness and balance disruptions can occur. In some cases, blocked ears may bleed.

Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as an ear infection.
Children experiencing inflamed nasal and throat passages may be more susceptible to developing a secondary condition, such as an ear infection.

Most people experience blocked ear symptoms because some underlying cause — such as infection, wax build up, injury, or a foreign object — is limiting the body's ability to regulate pressure in the middle ear, the part located beyond the ear drum and ear canal. Allergies, sinus infections, and colds can cause fluid accumulation in the eustachian tube, the tube that runs between the middle ear and the back of the throat. When this tube isn't functioning properly, the body can't regulate middle ear pressure adequately, and feelings of ear blockage can occur. Deformities of the eustachian tubes, or injuries to the eustachian tubes, can lead to similar symptoms.

A middle ear infection may cause a blocked ear sensation.
A middle ear infection may cause a blocked ear sensation.

Infections, foreign objects, and ear wax plugs can cause sensations of ear blockage. Foreign objects or wax plugs can block the ear canal, causing abnormalities in middle ear pressure. Reduced hearing can occur because the foreign object or wax plug may stop sounds from reaching the middle and inner ear. Infections of the ear can cause fluid to accumulate in the ear canal or middle ear. This can lead to imbalances in pressure inside the ear and can block sound waves from penetrating the middle and inner ear.

The presence of an ear infection may cause fever in infants.
The presence of an ear infection may cause fever in infants.

If blocked ear symptoms last for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by pain, fever, bleeding, or other symptoms, medical treatment is generally advised. Patients are usually cautioned against trying to remove wax plugs or foreign objects from the ear canal without the help of a physician. Untreated ear infections and injuries can cause serious and permanent damage to hearing.

An ear infection may cause painful, swollen lymph nodes.
An ear infection may cause painful, swollen lymph nodes.
Ears may feel blocked when there is wax buildup or an infection.
Ears may feel blocked when there is wax buildup or an infection.
Blocked ear symptoms can occur when the body is unable to regulate the pressure in the middle ear.
Blocked ear symptoms can occur when the body is unable to regulate the pressure in the middle ear.

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Discussion Comments

Spotiche5

@heavanet- Your point is a good one. There is no reason to fear seeking medical attention for such ear issues. However, the risk of damaging your hearing is something to fear.

Heavanet

This article makes a good point about seeing a doctor to diagnose and treat the cause of the sensation of blocked ears. There are so many causes, so only a trained medical doctor can tell a patient what the problem is and the best way to deal with it.

The best way to find a good ear doctor is to talk to your family doctor. He or she may be able to help you with your problem, but if not, will be able to refer you to an audiologist or a specialist who can.

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