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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Unexplainable Plugged Ear



Three days ago I woke up with my left ear feeling "plugged up". I try "popping" my ears by holding my nose and by yawning, but that doesn`t take the pressure in it away. I figured it would eventually go away. The next day I tried cleaning it with Maurine Ear Wax Removal Kit, but no wax came out. Soon after a sharp, constant pain occured inside my ear. I went to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who checked out my ears and said they both were as clean as a whistle and there was no visual signs of swelling. He gave me a pain killer for the pain in my ear and advised me to take Afrin 3 times a day. The pain did go away but my ear is still "plugged". I am experiencing no cold symptoms (ie. stuffy nose, congested sinuses, runny nose, coughing, etc.) and just woke up with pressure in my ear. I wasn`t around any loud noises prior to that morning either. Do you have any advise for me or sugguestions as to what it might be?


If you are still having problems after using the afrin and giving it some time I would go back and see your ENT or get another opinion. Performing a hearing test and tympanogram may be helpful too.

Eustachian tube dysfunction is high on the list of causes. But it is a little unusual to have that suddenly without a cold, allergies or other trigger. Sometimes throat or inner ear problems can present with ear fullness, pressure or pain too.

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Response by:

John H Greinwald, Jr, MD, FAAP John H Greinwald, Jr, MD, FAAP
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics
Director of the Auditory Genetics Laboratory
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati