- Determining the cause of plugged ears will take some thought. It could be ear wax buildup (gradual itching or a feeling of fullness in the ear canal); sinus stuffiness or infection (brought on by a recent cold or flu); pressure that never got released (recent changes in altitude); or ear infection (pain, itching and fullness in the ear canal). If you are not certain of the cause of the plugged ear then you should seek medical attention to find out.
- Plugged ears from wax buildup is easy to remedy at home by flushing out the ear canal. A solution is squirted into the ear via a bulb syringe while holding the ear over a bowl or sink. This flushing is repeated until the ear is clean. You can see the debris or wax that has come out in the bowl or sink while flushing. The simplest solution to use is warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda, or you can buy ear wash solutions from a pharmacy.
- Feeling plugged up from sinus pressure requires cleansing through the sinus. This type of plugged ear is caused by pressure or sinus drainage in the middle ear and can only be accessed through the nostrils. The best solution for this is using a saline nasal spray or neti pot. This will clean out the sinus and middle ear, thus relieving pressure.
- Plugged ears from changes in elevation requires attempting to get the Eustachian tube in the middle ear to open up and release the pressure. The Eustachian tube will usually open with jaw movement such as chewing, yawning and swallowing. Try to open and close the jaw slowly and as wide as possible. Chew gum, eat something or have a drink. The pressure should slowly release. Since Eustachian tube dysfunction can develop (although it's uncommon), seek medical advice if the feeling of fullness does not resolve itself.
- Feeling plugged up from an ear infection is normal and should go away when the infection clears up. After an infection you can retain that plugged feeling because of debris left in the canal. This can be flushed, vacuumed or picked out once you get medical confirmation that the infection is gone.