We have all felt pressure in our ears at some point. Ear pressure can be very uncomfortable and can feel like your ears are clogged. There are many different causes of pressure in your ears.

Why Do You Feel Pressure in Your Ears?

We feel pressure when the pressure in the middle part of our ear is different from the pressure outside of the ear. In our ear canal, there is a small passageway linking the middle ear to our throat, known as the eustachian tube. The purpose of this tube is to equalize the air pressure between the middle ear and what is outside.

The eustachian tubes open up when you do things like yawn or swallow, which naturally equalizes the pressure inside. But if the eustachian tube stops functioning properly or gets blocked, this causes an imbalance of air pressure.

What Causes Pressure in Your Ear?

There are a number of common causes of ear pressure:

  • Earwax build-up: If earwax blocks the width of your ear canal or earwax gets pushed deep into it, you can experience peer pressure, as well as tinnitus or even hearing loss. Common causes of earwax build-up include excessive use of cotton swabs and frequent use of earplugs or hearing aids.
  • Sinus problems: If you experience congestion as a result of common colds, allergies or irritants like tobacco smoke, this can create a feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Fluid build-up: If you have had respiratory infection allergies or a sinus infection, this can cause fluid to build up behind the eardrums, resulting in pressure or popping in the ears.
  • An infection of the middle or outer ear: An outer ear infection like swimmer’s ear can increase the bacteria inside your ear resulting in the fluid build-up. Additionally, viruses like respiratory infections can cause middle ear infections, causing symptoms like dizziness or hearing loss in addition to pressure.
  • Allergies: Common allergens like pet dander, pollen or mold can cause mucus to build up and increase inflammation in our nasal passage which affects the eustachian tube.


You can relieve the pressure of ear wax build-up by using solutions that can dissolve earwax. There are oils such as medical-grade almond oil that you can use. There are also special tools you can use. However, it’s important to make sure this is performed under the supervision of someone like an audiologist.


If you are looking to relieve congestion in your sinuses, you can use decongestants that you can purchase over the counter. You may also wish to use nasal irrigation methods, such as a neti pot.

Changes in Altitude

A natural way to relieve pressure in the inner ears is by swallowing or yawning. This movement naturally opens up your eustachian tubes, equalizing the pressure inside.


If you are experiencing significant allergy symptoms, over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays can help.

Ear Infection

While many infections can resolve themselves without any treatment if you are in extreme pain you can use over-the-counter pain medication or ear drops.

Build-Up of Fluid

Colds and allergies can cause fluid build-up in the middle ear, which can become infected. Usually treating the condition that causes the fluid build-up can help it to drain.

Blockage Caused by a Foreign Object

If the object is visible, you can gently remove it using tweezers, tilting your head to the side to use gravity to remove it, or you can wash out the object with a small syringe of warm water. If the object is not visible, do not try and pull it out yourself, as you could push the object further into your ear. Contact your audiologist if you notice that there is a foreign object in your ear.

Ear pressure is a very common thing. Feeling pressure in your ears can arise from a number of different causes. But if you are experiencing any pressure in your ear, you can typically treat the causes by taking over-the-counter medications or relieving the pressure by yawning or swallowing.

If you have any concerns that there is an issue with your middle ear, you may want to check if your hearing has been impacted. If you need to consult an audiologist, you can get in contact with the Quality Hearing Aid Center at (248) 430-8791.

Tags: ear blockage symptoms, ear pressure