Muffled ears won't go away days after trip!
February 20, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Any tips on how to get rid of muffled ears?

So over the 3 day weekend I went to Mt.Hood, Oregon--fun! But the next morning off the mountain I felt super congested and my ears and throat hurt. I think the cold and altitude caused it, plus I also had been drinking lots of wine which sometimes causes me to get stuffed up. To top it off, I had to fly home yesterday and so my ears got even more clogged.
I took pseudoephedrine pills and Nasonex spray both last night and today, which cleared up my nose, and have been drinking lots of water. I don't feel sick (not fatigued) but my throat stills feels weird (like I need to keep swallowing) and my ears still feel muffled. Its not too painful but its annoying, and I feel like its gradually giving me a headache.
In the past I've been told NOT to do the hold nose and blow trick, so I haven't done that and don't think I should.
Any other tricks?
posted by hellameangirl to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You've probably experienced some swelling in your Eustachian tubes (or some similar plumbing up in there), which has caused a vacuum. The vacuum in turn draws out fluid from the surrounding tissue, resulting in the muffled sensation. Earwax may also be contributing to the problem.

In my experience (I used to get this all the time), the best thing to do is to drink plenty of fluids, notably diluted sports drink.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013

This is what works for me when I get ear pressure from flying: get a teacup and fill it with hot water (but not too hot). Place your ear over the cup, forming a seal (be careful not to burn yourself). Hold it there until the pressure starts to go away. The steam from the water will relieve the pressure in your ear. You may need to do this more than once.
posted by kathryn at 2:29 PM on February 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

It could be earwax. Syringe away, and be horrified with what comes out. Srsly. You get nothing for the first few scoots then "zomg jabba the hutt is in my sink!"
posted by scruss at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have to take a day or two of regularly-scheduled ibuprofen on top of the sudafed to get the swelling to go down.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I had a problem like this - was partially deef in one ear - everything sounded distant and muffled - went into the doc, they irrigated with their fancy syringe rig and some warm water, once a small terrier sized chunk of wax blooped out into the basin, I could hear again...
posted by stenseng at 2:47 PM on February 20, 2013

Hmm, I just had a physical a month or so ago and the doc said my ears were fine/clean. I think this is a temporary pressure thing not wax.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2013

kathryn wins! That helps, thanks! I just look like a doofus in the office :P
posted by hellameangirl at 3:13 PM on February 20, 2013

What I find funny is that when I have that same issue, my doctor specifically tells me to hold my nose and blow, saying that it will temporarily help to open the tubes behind my ears, and let fluids out. A combination of doing that, taking decongestants, and doing the nasal steroid sprays for a few days always seems to relieve the issue. Also make sure you are drinking a lot of fluids.

If your ears were clean a month ago, it is highly unlikely that the problem is anything in your outer ear. It's most likely a fluid buildup behind your eardrum. For me the biggest symptom of this is that low bass frequencies cause a dizzy feeling, and start to give me a headache.

Unfortunately, the few doctors I've talked about have all said that there is no quick or easy solution for it, you really need to decongest and give your inner ear some time to clear out.
posted by markblasco at 7:28 AM on February 21, 2013

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