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Why Does My Ear Feel Clogged?

Why do my ears feel clogged?

Do you remember going swimming as a kid and getting water stuck in your ear? You probably did the little dance where you tilt your head to the side, shake your head, and jump around a bit. Am I right? Problem solved!

But, what about when you feel like there’s water in your ear when there really isn’t? What if you didn’t just get done swimming or taking a shower, but it still feels like your ear is clogged?

There are a few explanations for a clogged ear that can’t be solved by doing the post-swim dance.

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1. Wax Build-up in The Ear

The most common cause of a clogged ear is ear wax. An ear wax build-up, or cerumen impaction, simply means that the wax in the ear is filling up the entire ear canal. It blocks sound from getting to the eardrum and will leave your ear feeling muffled and clogged.


Once you have the ear wax removed by a professional, the clogged feeling will go away. It may be necessary for some people to have their ears professionally cleaned on a regular basis, as some produce more ear wax than others.

A wax build-up is the likely cause of a clogged ear if you are not experiencing any other symptoms besides a hearing loss in the affected ear.

2. Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s Disease is a disease of the inner ear which can cause a feeling of fullness or clogged ear. It most often only affects one ear. The clogged feeling in the ear will occur during the episodes of Meniere’s Disease, and will then go away.

The clogged ear caused by Meniere’s Disease may be treated by managing the Meniere’s Disease.

Meniere’s Disease is the likely cause of a clogged ear if you are also experiencing dizziness and/or ringing and hearing loss in the affected ear.

3. Ear Infection

Another common cause of a clogged ear is an ear infection. This may be an ear infection of the middle ear or an ear infection of the outer ear.

Children are most susceptible to ear infections, but they can also occur in adults of any age. Ear infections can come about suddenly, especially if you have a cold or sinus infection. Ear infections of the outer ear are often called “Swimmer’s Ear” because it occurs most often in children who are in water often.

Check out our list of top 3 ear plugs for swimming

An ear infection is the likely cause of a clogged ear if you have any other symptoms of a cold or sinus infection, have pain in the ear, and/or a fever.

While it may be difficult to determine what is causing your ear to feel clogged on your own, a physician can usually tell just by examining the ear with an otoscope.

Photo Credit: K. Sawyer Photography via Compfight cc

Lindsey Banks


Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Everyday Hearing.


  1. Anessa Mullins says:

    My ear feels like I s loaded with water but I use a Q-tip it’s doesn’t help.What can I do to stop this?

    1. If your ear feels clogged for any extended time and drying it out does not help then it may not actually be water in your ear. I would recommend you see a hearing healthcare provider to get it checked out to be sure.

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