Why Are My Ears Clogged? --- Causes
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Last updated August 8, 2017, originally published January 4, 2015

By  Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist





If you often wake up with a feeling of having congestion in
your ears, you probably have tried many remedies already.
Chronic ear congestion is a problem which is treated often in
children. But many of us who are well beyond the age of
diapers also suffer from this annoying condition.


There are many different potential causes of this problem
but most causes center around the issue of an unresolved
infection in your ear canal or in the area behind your ears
called the “mastoid air cells”.


Sinus infections can also cause this sensation of having
clogged ears. Your sinuses are air openings resembling a
series of honey combs. When sinuses and ear passages are
unclogged, air moves freely within them, like wind whistling
through caves. If sinus passages are dry or if an infection
has invaded one of the honeycombs, you will feel congested.


The prevalence of this condition of having clogged ears is
hard to pin down. The Centers for Disease Control estimate
s
that 28 million Americans suffer from sinusitis and that 70%
of children and 3.5% of adults suffers at some point in our
lives from ear infection.


[Update:
In fact, sinusitis is one of the most common chronic infection
in the United States, affecting up to 30% of all people in the
US, which translates to over 100 million people.]



Symptoms of Sinus or Ear Canal Infections































Depending on the severity of the infection, sinus infections
and ear canal infections have varying symptoms, including:


  • Coughing

  • Nasal congestion

  • Fever

  • Irritability

  • Sleeplessness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Pain in the ear

  • Pain on the sinuses on either side of your nose

  • Pain behind the ears (in cases of blocked mastoid air
    cells)

hearing your heart pulse in your ears (an indication of
inflammation in the ear canal)


clear phlegm which can be clear if the cause of the
congestion is allergies  


yellow or green phlegm is the cause of the congestion is
bacterial or viral infection


Can Anti-Biotics Help?


First of all, antibiotics only address bacterial infections. They
will not be helpful against viral infections.


Ear and sinus infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses
or simple irritations from allergies.  Sometimes the primary
infections are exacerbated by bacteria from tooth infections.


Doctors have discovered that antibiotics often don’t work
well in treating ear infections. The problem could be the
intricate architecture of the ear and sinus passages where
infection can just get trapped in a hard-to-reach  and hard-
to-dislodge place, so the infection just sits much like bacteria
in a deep well.


Many physicians are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics
especially in cases which are not likely to benefit from the
treatment.  One of the reasons for their reluctance is that
over-prescription of antibiotics is partly to blame for the
increase in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.



But here are some remedies, based on medical studies,
which do help:




Open and Clear the Ears and Sinuses with Gentle Steam

Gentle steam will help to moisturize the ear canal and sinus
passages. Once moist, the passages will clear on their own
as you breathe. The air itself will help to flush out the
infection and congestion. Sit in a warm bath two to three
days a week or take a shower long enough to get “steamed
up”.


Use a Humidifier to Heal Ear Canals

Here again, the principle is using warm steam to gently move
the infection along, you should aim the angle of the
moisturizer above your head, so the moisture can fall gently
across your face and into your ear and nose. Make sure that
you clean the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s
instructions. There have been some cases of respiratory
infection actually caused by using a dirty humidifier. After all,
if the humidifier is filled with bacteria, adding steaming water
to it will simply introduce the bacteria into your sinus
passages and ear canal.


Go Upside Down or Change Your Sleeping Position

To help your passages drain, try bending over a pot of hot
water with a towel over your head. Not too close of course.
Just at the same distance you would use to give yourself a
home facial.


In general, changing the posture of your head can help to
clear your sinuses and ear canals. If you are sleeping, try
sleeping with the clogged ear closest to the bed sheets.


What you are trying to do is to encourage any trapped
infection to shift and move along in the passages or canal.


Add Thyme to Your Facial Steam  

Thyme has strong antibacterial properties, several studies
have found. A 2011 study from Medical and Sanitary
Microbiology Department, Medical University of Lodz, Poland
Poland examined the effectiveness of thyme against bacterial
strains of staphylococcus, enterococcus, escherichia and
pseudomonas genera. The study found that essential oil of
thyme was effective against all of these bacterial strains.  In
fact, even against bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics,
the study noted that “Thyme oil demonstrated a good
efficacy against antibiotics resistant strains of the tested
bacteria”.


Thyme has been used as a medicine for over 3,000 years,
according to a 2015 study from the University of Belgrade.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans  used certain
species of thyme to make perfumed balms and for medicine.  
Greek physician Dioscorides wrote 2000 years ago in his
discourse on pharmacological values of various herbs that
“Everyone knows thyme”. He went on to advise that  thyme
was useful for treating asthma and loosening congestion.


This ancient wisdom is still true today. Use thyme to loosen
the congestion in your ears and sinuses.


Add a few drops of thyme oil to a pot of hot, steaming
water. Let the steam waft up to your face and ears for half
an hour. Even better, add a few drops of thyme oil to your
commercial facial steamer.  Another way to benefit from the
thyme is less effective but, as a last resort, consider adding a
few drops of thyme to your bath.


There are several types of thyme. Most of the studies have
used either thyme vulgaris or  Thymus serpyllum L. (wild
thyme). Wild thyme is also known as Breckland thyme or
creeping thyme.


An Ear Cleanser with Hydrogen Peroxide and Oil Can Open
Ears


I have often used a commercial ear cleanser with good
results. These are made up of a combination of hydrogen
peroxide or another disinfectant and oil.

To avoid contaminating your ears with an old bottle of ear
cleanser, change the bottle once your infection clears up,
according to a 2011 study on ear infection in animals from
The Animal Dermatology Clinic in Marietta, Georgia. You
don't want to reintroduce the same bacteria by touching
your ears with a contaminated bottle.

























































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