Clogged Ear or Ear Infection?

Health Tips
April 13, 2023
3 mins
Clogged Ear or Ear Infection?

Our ears are an essential part of daily living. They help us to hear, maintain balance, and understand the location and distance of various sounds. Though they’re common conditions, both ear infections and clogged ears can be painful. They cause many issues, from discomfort to difficulties with hearing. If you’re wondering how to unclog ears, we’ve got you covered. 

There are several differences between clogged ears and ear infections. Let’s take a deeper look!

Clogged Ear vs. Ear Infection: The Essentials

Clogged ears and ear infections have distinct causes, symptoms, and treatments. Here, we’ve broken down the top need-to-knows about clogs and infections.

Clogged Ears

Clogged ears are an incredibly common experience. Often, they occur when there’s a blockage in the ear canal. Blockages are caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Excessive ear wax buildup
  • Changes in atmospheric pressure (e.g., flying on an airplane)
  • Colds and allergies that cause congestion
  • Water in your ears
  • Sinus infections

Clogged ears are an inconvenience in your daily life. Sound becomes muffled, and can even cause tinnitus, which is excessive ringing in the ears. Not to mention, it can make your ears feel uncomfortably full. However, clogged ears are typically a temporary issue. The issue can be resolved at home or with simple treatments at an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor's office. 

Ear Infections

On the other hand, ear infections are more severe than clogged ears. They have the potential for long-term complications if they’re not treated in a reasonable amount of time. Hearing loss, recurring infections, and meningitis are among some of the continuing issues that can occur.

Ear infections are prevalent in younger children, though they can affect people of all ages. They’re caused by bacteria or viruses in the “middle ear,” which is the space behind the eardrum. The middle ear is located in the eardrum and is responsible for transmitting sound. Some symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Overall pain that affects the ear and sometimes even the jaw
  • Ear pressure
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Fevers
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus

To treat an ear infection, you’ll want an antibiotic. Antibiotics will kill the bacteria or virus that is creating the infection. If the pain becomes severe, you may also be prescribed pain relief medication to manage your symptoms. In the case that your ear infection is extreme, a doctor will drain fluid from the middle ear. Or, they will place a small tube in the eardrum to prevent fluid buildup.

You’ll want to avoid self-diagnosing for an ear infection. Since they can be more dangerous, it’s vital to make an appointment with an expert doctor. They’ll determine whether it’s a clogged ear or an infection and will provide you with the appropriate next steps.

Steps to Take if Your Ear Feels Clogged

If your ear feels clogged, there are a few ways to alleviate it. More straightforward than an infection, treatment can be done at home with either homemade or drugstore remedies. Ear drops will soften the wax buildup, and you can even blow your nose to relieve pressure. Other treatments that may help include oils, peroxide, nasal sprays, a warm compress, or irrigation.

If your ears are blocked because something is stuck (such as cotton), be sure to make an appointment with a doctor. They’ll help you remove the object safely without harming your eardrum.

Treat Your Ears Well!

The ears are a sensitive part of the body, so it’s essential to treat them carefully. Clogged ears and ear infections are distinct conditions that should be dealt with seriously. 

Treat your ears well by making an appointment at BASS Medical Group! With your family's health in mind, our medical professionals can help you manage your ear infection or clogged ear. 

Contact us to learn more!