If you’ve ever experienced blocked ears, you know it’s a sudden and frightening feeling that should not (and usually cannot) be ignored. Even if you’re a healthy individual, it could be the sign of something more serious coming to the surface.
Most commonly, an unexpected blocked or full sensation in the ears can lead to hearing loss or tinnitus unless treated quickly and safely by a medical professional. GPs and emergency department employees have called that clogged feeling a “common complaint” by patients – and the US estimates it affects roughly 5000 people per year – but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked if it happens to you.
The Head of Clinical Research at the Ear and Science Institute of Australia, Professor Peter Friedland, said part of the issue stems from a general ignorance of the condition, which comes on completely unexpectedly in 90% of cases. Healthy individuals are especially caught off guard and often feel uncomfortable with the idea of the treatment – high doses of steroids. A 10-to-14 day steroid regimen is recommended until a diagnosis is confirmed, which gives patients a much greater chance of recovery.
To many people’s surprise (and disappointment), antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, and ear-drops are not at all effective in treating sudden nerve loss. Whatever you do, do NOT try to treat blockages yourself by digging around your ears, as that can cause more damage than there was to begin with. If you feel that fullness coming on, seek medical attention immediately.