In order to hear, environmental vibrations must be picked up by tiny hair cells within the ear and transferred to the auditory nerves. When these hairs become damaged, blocked or impaired, they don’t function properly. This can cause you to hear sounds, even in quiet surroundings. This condition is known as tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is often accompanied by the sensation of having "plugged" ears, which further aggravates the condition. This situation generally resolves over time; however, there are a several home remedies you can use to make the wait more bearable.
The middle portion of your ear is connected to your nose by a tube. Under normal conditions, the air pressure inside your ear is the same as the pressure outside. If the air pressure is not equal, the ear feels plugged. This happens frequently during air travel, as rapid changes in elevation cause pressure to build up inside the tubes. This is generally corrected by yawning, swallowing or chewing gum. The physical action of the jaws forces the ear tubes open, allowing air to flow into or out of the ear. If yawning or swallowing doesn't relieve the blocked feeling, try pinching both nostrils closed, shutting your mouth and then attempting to blow air out of your lungs. This creates an internal pressure that can relieve plugged ears.
Sinus infections or allergy flare-ups can also lead to plugged ears. Take an antihistamine and decongestant to drain your sinuses; this can help relieve your symptoms.
If you experience tinnitus, take steps to shield your ears from further harm. Wear earplugs to protect yourself when exposed to hazards, such as construction sites, transportation hubs and loud concerts. Also, reduce the volume on your iPod or cell-phone head set, as repeated exposure to loud music and conversations can increase the odds of sustaining permanent damage.
If you routinely take aspirin to treat minor aches and pains, consider lowering your dose or switching to a different pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, as the chemicals in aspirin may impair the function of hair cells within the ear. Exercise daily, even if only for a few minutes. The general increase in blood circulation can help diminish the sensation of internal ringing.
Finally, incorporate fresh pineapple into your diet, as it contains natural compounds that can reduce inflammation in the body.
If you’re experiencing both plugged and ringing ears, you may have a build-up of ear wax. While this sticky yellow substance protects the ear canal from bacteria and fungi, excessive quantities can block the eardrum, causing inflammation of the inner ear and impairing your ability to hear. To clean the wax from your ears, begin by softening it. Place a few drops of warm olive oil, mineral oil or baby oil into each ear. Rub the ears externally to help work the oil into the ear canal. Wait five minutes, then use a bulb syringe to flush each ear with a solution of baking soda and water. Repeat the procedure three to five times a day or until the ear is clean and your hearing is restored.