Stuffed ear: what to do at home if it doesn’t go away and you have trouble hearing?

If your ear is blocked due to a runny nose, this indicates the presence of various diseases of the ENT system. In most cases, this happens during exacerbations of colds. The hearing and respiratory organs are very close to each other. Therefore, inflammatory processes that begin to develop in the nasal cavity often lead to complications in the ear area. In our article we will look at the causes of this phenomenon and learn how to deal with them.


To establish the root cause of blocked ears during a runny nose, it is worth understanding what the principles of operation of the hearing system are in general terms. The entire system consists of three parts: the outer, inner and middle ear. First comes the auricle, which smoothly passes into the auditory canal from the outside.

At the end of the passage is the eardrum, then the middle ear. It is divided into two parts: the tympanic cavity, the auditory cavity (the second name is the Eustachian tube). These cavities pass into the nasopharynx area. The inner ear (also known as the ear labyrinth) allows a person to sense balance and hear sounds.

The hearing system, throat and nose have many connections. Therefore, one of the most common causes of congestion is problems with the patency of the auditory cavity. This is due to the presence of swelling or accumulation of mucus.

If such underlying causes occur, then in the presence of swelling in the lymphoid tissue, the swelling process begins, which leads to blocking the entrance to the Eustachian tube. Large mucous accumulations lead to many inflammation processes in the ear area.

Another reason for ear congestion during a cold can be frequent sneezing. Sneezing leads to increased pressure, in order to prevent trouble, blow your nose in each nostril in turn and do not overdo it.

Causes of blocked ears during illness

Many people wonder why their ears begin to clog when they have a cold. The fact is that a person’s hearing aid has a very close connection with the throat and nose. And if one of these organs has an infection, then most likely it will cause complications in the others. Therefore, if there is congestion in the ear, you should check not only the auditory system, but also the nasopharynx.

There are quite a few reasons for ear congestion during illness; let’s look at the most common of them:

  1. Inflamed lymph nodes in the nasopharynx. This happens with a common cold, they increase greatly, which creates a feeling of congestion.
  2. With ARVI, runny nose and other colds, more wax may form in the ear than usual. It creates something like plugs that clog the ears.
  3. The cause of blocked ears may be otitis media. In this case, there will be a shooting and sharp pain in the ear. This disease is very serious and it is important to start treating it in the early stages, before the disease begins to progress and purulent processes begin.
  4. A runny nose is considered the most common cause of ear congestion during illness. When an infection occurs, the mucous membrane begins to more actively produce mucus, which subsequently clogs the inner ear and prevents air from circulating normally.
  5. Inflammation of the facial nerve can also cause ear congestion; usually the ear is blocked on the side of the face on which the nerve is inflamed.

Ear congestion and runny nose

Often, the presence of a runny nose is aggravated by symptoms, which lead to the disease becoming completely unbearable. In some cases, the ears become clogged with a runny nose, which brings a lot of discomfort to the patient’s life.

We have already told you about what parts the human hearing system consists of. When all physiological processes proceed in a standard manner, the pressure in the Eustachian tube and middle ear will be uniform.

During a runny nose, the process of swelling of the mucous membranes begins, which leads to the fact that the ear canal narrows under the influence of mucus and swelling. Sometimes it gets completely blocked.

Therefore, the pressure of the middle ear does not have time to adjust to changes in air pressure from the outside and becomes constant. At this time, the eardrum bends inward, which leads to a stuffy ear after a runny nose.

Why do ears get stuffy with rhinitis?

The nasopharynx is closely interconnected with the auditory system, therefore, when a runny nose appears, congestion in the ears can appear both in the first days of a cold and a few days later as a complication. If your ears are blocked, this is explained by what happens with rhinitis

inflammation of the nasal mucosa, which spreads to the auditory canals and the Eustachian tube connecting the ear and nose. The appearance of swelling and inflammation in these canals leads to their narrowing, which causes a feeling of fullness in the ears and decreased hearing. Sometimes the ears become clogged with frequent sneezing, which is also present with a runny nose. This condition is caused by excessive or improper blowing of the nose, which causes increased pressure on the eustachian tube. If stuffy ears with a runny nose are not treated in time, the inflammatory process can spread to the Eustachian tube, which will lead to impaired ventilation in the ear cavity, where serous effusion will accumulate.

The most common cause of ear congestion is a runny nose, but sometimes this symptom can appear as a result of a large accumulation of wax in the ear ducts or when the nose is not blown properly. Against the background of rhinitis, otitis media very often develops, which is also characterized by the appearance of congestion in the ears. It is important to understand that if your ear is blocked due to a runny nose, treatment should be carried out immediately, since such a condition can lead to quite unpleasant consequences, including hearing loss. In order to avoid the appearance of congestion, you need to know what to do if your ears are blocked with a runny nose, what are the causes and how to treat this condition.


In order to get rid of ear congestion during a runny nose, it is necessary to use medications and traditional medicine.

Using drops

What to do if your ear is blocked? Before starting treatment for congestion, it is necessary to use vasoconstrictor drugs. They will help you relieve swelling in the area of ​​the Eustachian tube, and patency will be better.

In addition, these drugs prevent the development of inflammation. Sometimes specialized ear drops are used. Both types of drugs are often prescribed in combination.

Vasoconstrictor drops that will help you relieve ear congestion during a runny nose:

  • Sanorin;
  • Tizin;
  • Vibrocil;
  • Naphthyzin.

The use of such drugs is due to the fact that reducing the size of swelling in the nasal mucosa will make it possible to reduce swelling in the ear canal, which will lead to the elimination of the feeling of stuffiness.

The effectiveness will be temporary, so these drops are used as a means to relieve symptoms and alleviate the patient’s condition. Otherwise, the problem must be eliminated by treating the root cause of its occurrence.

Vasoconstrictor drugs can be used for no longer than five days, otherwise addiction to them will follow, which is fraught with complications.

Specialized ear drops are indispensable assistants in eliminating problems of the hearing system. Among the variety of such means, the following are distinguished:

  • Otipax;
  • Rizocin;
  • Otium;
  • Rivanol.

These drugs must be used very carefully, since many of them have quite powerful effects and are not used at an early stage of the disease. This means that the use of such drugs is possible only as prescribed by your attending physician.


In order to get rid of congestion in the ear, you can use alcohol-based compresses.

To do this, you need to mix alcohol and clean water in a one-to-one ratio. Gauze or other soft cotton cloth is placed in this liquid. A damp cloth is applied to the sore ear. You can wrap the compress with cling film to make it more effective. The third layer will be sterile cotton wool.

It is best to use compresses before going to bed while lying in bed. This technique is applicable only if you do not have purulent inflammatory processes. Therefore, the procedure can be done only after the doctor has ruled out the presence of pus.

Special exercises

You can relieve stuffy ears when you have a runny nose. To do this you need to perform the following action:

  1. The nostrils are pinched with all force with the fingers.
  2. Exhale through the nose.

The exercise is done until you hear a light pop in your ear, as if a plug had flown out of it. This is a very effective method. It is also used after a plane flight, when the ears become very stuffy due to the pressure drop during takeoff or landing.

Warming up

Warming up, like compresses, can be done only if the disease is not accompanied by purulent inflammation.

The technique is quite effective, but quite controversial. Experts have not reached a consensus regarding the pros and cons of this procedure.

In order to warm the ear, use salt or sand heated in a frying pan. Alternatively, you can use a hot boiled egg. Salt, sand or an egg are wrapped in a cloth or bag and placed on the ear for ten minutes.


Some people find that massaging the nose and ear area helps. Light circular movements should be carried out with soft fingertips. Massage the nasal wings and the area behind the ear. The duration of the process is fifteen minutes.

It is worth noting that before starting such procedures, you should thoroughly clean your nose and blow your nose.

All of the above methods for treating ear congestion should be discussed with your doctor.

What to do if your ears are blocked

If you begin to experience discomfort from ear congestion, the first step towards recovery is to see a doctor who will conduct an examination, prescribe the necessary tests, find out the cause and determine treatment.
You can go either to a therapist or directly to an otolaryngologist, in common parlance “ear, nose and throat,” because in most cases, congestion in the ear is a symptom of a disease in the nasopharynx. But there are times when it is not possible to go to see a doctor, so there are several ways to alleviate the condition without harming yourself with improper treatment:

  1. You can get rid of too much mucus buildup by clearing your nose. To do this, you need to blow your nose thoroughly. This will allow air to flow through the nose and relieve the unpleasant symptom. You can use saline solutions and rinse your nose with a dropper or small syringe.
  2. In every pharmacy you can buy ear drops without a prescription, which should relieve inflammation in the ear. It is better to drip them warm, and then lie down for about 15 minutes. If it is possible to consult a doctor about the drops, be sure to use it.
  3. The simplest massage will help. You need to massage with your fingertips, without pressing too much. The areas that need the most attention are behind the ears and the wings of the nose. The duration of the procedure should be at least 10 minutes.

To avoid stuffy ears after a runny nose, just follow a few rules:

  • Avoid allowing large amounts of mucus to accumulate in the nose;
  • Don't take the common cold lightly. At the first signs of the disease, it is necessary to begin treatment immediately, otherwise it can cause serious complications, including to the ears;
  • When blowing your nose, you don't need to do it too intensely. When blowing forcefully, some particles of mucus may enter the middle ear, which in turn will lead to blockage.

Treatment with drugs

Treatment of ear congestion in most cases involves medication, but medication should only be taken on the recommendation of a doctor. In addition, most likely, it will be necessary to treat not only the ears, so the doctor will prescribe other medications that will help cope with the cold.

If ear congestion occurs due to a cold, then the doctor may prescribe phytosuppositories, special sprays, solutions, drops that should narrow the blood vessels. These medicines are usually made with sea salt.

The doctor may also prescribe special ear drops that help remove swelling, inflammation and prevent harmful bacteria from developing in the affected area. It is better to warm such drops before instillation; they cannot be used cold.

For otitis media, the following drugs are prescribed:

  • Normax. An effective drug with immediate action, however, it does not help against inflammation or relieve pain;
  • Otofa. Used to treat chronic otitis media. Contains rifamycin;
  • Otipax. This drug contains icecaine, which helps relieve pain and promotes accelerated healing.

What procedures to use

Many different procedures are used to treat ear congestion, depending on the cause:

  1. If the congestion is due to excessive accumulation of sulfur, then it is quite simple to remove it, but it is difficult to do this at home and there is a high possibility of causing even more harm. It is better to consult a doctor with such a question.
  2. For treatment, various compresses are used: oil, alcohol, salt, herbal. This procedure is usually done before bedtime. If you use oil (vegetable, olive), then it needs to be heated before, but it should not be very hot, just warm. The same goes for alcohol.
  3. Electropheresis and blowing of the Eustachian tube can also help get rid of congestion.
  4. If the congestion is caused by an abnormal nasal septum, then only surgical intervention will help.

To treat ear congestion, you can also resort to traditional methods, but this does not exclude a trip to the doctor. During your examination, your otolaryngologist will be able to determine which procedure is right for you.

During pregnancy

Currently, there are many reasons that lead to ear problems during pregnancy.

The most common ailments:

  • Tubootitis.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Otitis.

If a woman’s ears are blocked in the position, then under no circumstances should she self-medicate. This can lead to hearing loss. If the expectant mother has a wax plug in her ear, then it is worth visiting a doctor to eliminate it.

When it comes to infection entering the body, doctors prescribe ear drops and medications that can be used during pregnancy. If the root cause of the disease is a deviated nasal septum, then it is worth eliminating this pathology.

Pregnancy itself can also become a provocateur of the disease. In this case, no treatment is provided, you just have to wait. As soon as a woman gives birth to a child, all symptoms will disappear on their own.

Clearing mucus

In order to avoid stuffy ears, it is worth monitoring not only their condition, but also the nasal cavity. It is important that there are no mucous accumulations in it. After all, when it gets into the nasal passages, snot begins to accumulate, swelling and problems with the respiratory processes appear. We will tell you how to properly get rid of mucus accumulations if you have stuffy ears.

Doctors recommend blowing your nose and rinsing your nose with a solution of sea salt. Since the nasal cavity is blocked, the snot, based on the principle of less resistance, is directed to the place where the pressure will be less - this is the Eustachian tube or sinuses.

All this leads to the development of otitis and sinusitis. The ear can get blocked right in the process of clearing the nose. Therefore, when blowing your nose, you should close one nostril, holding it tightly with your finger.

Causes of stuffy ears

There are three main reasons why the ears become stuffy when you have a runny nose:

  • spread of nasopharyngeal edema to the tissue of the Eustachian tubes, leading to narrowing of the lumen;
  • penetration of mucus into the tube, which occurs when, instead of blowing your nose, you sniff and the snot is drawn deeper;
  • spread of infection beyond the nasopharynx with capture of the auditory canal, accumulation of pus.

In the latter case, not only the ears become clogged, but there is also severe pain in this area.


You can relieve the symptoms of ear congestion during a runny nose. To do this, it is necessary to periodically clean the nasal cavity from the accumulation of snot.

To do this, you need to rinse your nose with a solution of sea salt or other antiseptics - tincture of chamomile, sage. You can purchase ready-made drugs at the pharmacy - Aquamaris, Dolphin.

In order to protect yourself from the occurrence of swelling and congestion in the nose, you must follow the rules for the prevention of colds:

  • It is necessary to dress correctly. According to the weather and time of year.
  • You cannot overcool the body.
  • It is worth protecting yourself from drafts.
  • You need to take a walk every day. Before going to bed, ventilate the room.
  • During disease outbreaks and during the dangerous seasons of autumn and winter, frequent exposure to public places should be avoided if possible. In addition, it is worth rinsing your nose with sea salt daily, as this solution has an antiseptic effect.
  • If necessary, take vitamin complexes.

By following these simple rules, you can avoid colds, nasal congestion and other complications.

Relieving ear congestion at home

You can cope with ear congestion at home. For example, the use of special massage exercises helps to quickly get rid of this disease.

To do this, use your fingertips to gently massage your nose and ears for fifteen minutes. Then you should tilt your head slightly in different directions. At the end of this massage procedure, you need to inhale deeply through your mouth and hold your breath for a while, swallowing the air in your mouth. This massage is effective and easy for anyone to do.

You can use chewing gum, which should be chewed for a while, or toffee to relieve congestion. Inflating a balloon also relieves ear congestion. The integrated use of these exercises will contribute to the onset of recovery and restoration of hearing.

What if the problem is not treated?

In many cases, people who suffer from a runny nose and congestion do not attach much importance to it. But this is unsafe, since the appearance of congestion can result in dangerous complications. For example, during a cold, the inflammation process can damage the ear, which leads to otitis media.

If otitis media is not treated, big troubles can happen, the worst of which is complete or partial hearing loss. Therefore, a runny nose that leads to ear congestion must be treated immediately.

Now you know why your ear is blocked and how to treat this problem. Ear congestion is an unpleasant and uncomfortable pathological process. There are many reasons for its appearance. In order to effectively resolve a problem, it is necessary to recognize the root cause and implement corrective measures. The attending physician will help you cope with this; self-medication is not permissible.

Associated symptoms and signs

Ear congestion with a runny nose can occur with additional symptoms that cause severe discomfort to the patient.
Possible manifestations of pathology include:

  • headache and feeling of heaviness;
  • hyperemia of the skin around the ears;
  • numbness in various parts of the face;
  • tingling sensation in the ear area;
  • increase in body temperature up to 38 degrees;
  • noise and ringing in the ears;
  • dizziness;
  • increased pain when pressing on the sink;
  • discomfort when chewing and swallowing;
  • pain in the cheek or in the temporal part of the head;
  • hearing impairment;
  • purulent discharge from the ears.

Important! If, in addition to a runny nose, ear congestion is accompanied by other symptoms and does not go away several hours after its onset, you should contact a medical facility.

( 2 ratings, average 4 out of 5 )
Did you like the article? Share with friends:
Для любых предложений по сайту: [email protected]