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Why Is Your Ear Ringing and Muffled?

It’s not until you lose your hearing that you realise just how frustrating it really is for people with permanently impaired hearing to get by. While you imagine it must be hard having to ask everyone to repeat themselves, what you don’t necessarily think about is how much you miss out on, how much less aware of your surroundings you’ll feel, or how much it will affect your mood.

If you’ve been struggling with a muffled and ringing ear then, you’ll probably want to get to the bottom of it pretty fast. Let’s take a look then at why your ear might be making noise instead of picking it up and what you can do about it.

The Most Likely Solution…

The most obvious reason for a ringing and muffled ear is that it might be bunged up with wax. If this is the case then you might notice that you can gain temporary relief from moving your jaw or pressing on your earlobe. In this case the ringing sound will actually be created by your brain – as an attempt to compensate for the lack of input.

The best solution is to invest in some ear drops and to follow the directions. Do not try to unblock your ear with buds as you will only end up forcing the wax in further and may cause damage to the drums. If you have tried using drops to no avail, then you should try seeing a doctor who can syringe your ears to clear out deep-set wax that you can’t get at yourself.

Other Potential Answers

If your ear is not plugged with wax then there are many other causes that might be behind the hearing loss. Another common cause is an infection (otitis), in which case you might also experience some drainage of fluid, high temperature and discomfort (though not in every case). In that case you should again see a doctor who will probably prescribe antibiotics such as amoxicillin. This is common after a cold.

Traumas can also cause hearing loss in one ear, including traumas to the head as well as to the ear itself. A ruptured eardrum is a common cause of hearing loss and can be caused either by direct trauma or from listening to music too loudly. A perforated eardrum will usually heal on its own in over a few months.

In ETD, or ‘Eustachian Tube Dysfunction’, the Eustachian tube (which connects the throat to the inner ear) doesn’t function properly and becomes obstructed due to a variety of causes. This can cause your ears to become blocked with mucus more regularly and may be more difficult to solve long term.

Various remedies can help you to gain some relief:

• Using steam to break up mucus

• Chewing gum and moving the jaw forward and back (you should hear your tubes ‘popping’ as the pressure changes)

• Yawning

• Holding your nose and blowing out (only do this gently though as you can cause damage otherwise)

• Sleeping in an upright position to avoid mucus build-up during the night

In some cases a loss of hearing can be permanent or semi-permanent and the cause is not always known. Don’t panic though, nine times out of ten a blocked ear will clear itself out in a few days or weeks – it’s just highly frustrating in the meantime…

And if it’s your left ear, then the superstition says that it means someone is saying something nice about you (not that you’d be able to hear). So at least there’s that…!

Dr. Janice Rachael Mae

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View all articles by Dr. Janice Rachael Mae

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