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Clogged Ears -

Overlooked Causes

Not Just Colds and Allergies

Most people are aware that you can have plugged ears associated with colds, allergies, and sinus infections. However, we have found in my family that muscular tightness in the neck and shoulders pulling on ears can actually cause ears to plug up. When our ears get plugged from muscular tension, it can prevent them from draining properly, and be a contributing factor in the development of sinus and ear infections (as opposed to sinus infections causing plugged ears).

I've noticed that plugged ears are common problems for the people in my family with muscular imbalances around the head, neck and chest area - especially those with uneven shoulders, scoliosis, neck pain and TMJ.

Some activities that I've noticed precipitated clogged up ears for us include:

  • Playing games like Nintendo and Xbox. When our kids play Xbox and Nintendo too much, they tighten up the muscles in their neck and arms. This seems to cause a set of "muscular chain reactions", causing repetitive strain injuries in their hands and locking up the muscles from their hands to their shoulders, and on through their heads and necks. As a result, their ears will often get closed up from muscular tension pulling the ear canal out of alignment.

    boy with tight muscles from game controller   My kids have gotten close ears from muscle tightness from playing too many hours of video games.

  • Schoolwork with a lot of writing sometimes will cause my children clogged ears and/or ear pain.

  • Bicycle riding on bikes where we brake by squeezing a lever on the handle bars.

  • I've had my ears plug from lifting weights, and have gotten a number of emails from people who have had the same experience.

  • Some yoga poses. I love doing yoga and overall it has been great for my body and health. But I have to pick and choose what poses I do, as some will open up my ears and some will close them up, depending on which muscles get strengthened and which get released during the particular pose.

  • For me, embroidery work seems to have a negative impact on my head and neck muscles and contributes to my ears closing up.

  • High blood pressure. We've noticed our ears get plugged from eating certain foods and supplements that are known to increase blood pressure. Foods that we have noticed that tend to increase our blood pressure include anything with a lot of B vitamins (fortified cereals, multivitamins, liver), red meat, foods high in saturated fat, foods high in salt, acidic foods, and foods with helpful bacteria like cultured yogurt and acidophilus supplements (helpful bacteria aid in the synthesis of B vitamins).

Our Remedy for Plugged Ears

Obviously, the remedy for plugged ears depends a lot on the initial cause. If our kids ears plug up from muscular tension from playing too much Xbox, then we have them stop playing for a week or two and have them do a lot of yoga and trigger point therapy to relax their muscles in the meantime.

Trigger point therapy is a form of self massage that is great for loosening up tight muscles. It works well on its own, but combined with yoga we've found it has been a very effective and low cost way of eliminating pain and relaxing muscular tension. By relaxing muscles that may be tight and pulling downward on the ears, for us trigger point therapy helps our ears to open up and drain better, reducing the possibility of trapped bacteria causing sinus infections and eliminating a feeling of fullness and pressure in the ears.

We initially started doing trigger point therapy for conditions such as fibromyalgia and neck pain, but as a pleasant side effect I began to notice that sometimes my nose and ears would suddenly unclog as I was doing the treatments. I tried it on my kids and found that the trigger point therapy also helped them to open up their ears and noses, thus helping them to get over sinus and ear infections relatively quicker than they had in the past.

The yoga positions from the book Back Care Basics by Mary Schatz that seem to open up my ears the most are:

  • Supine Knee-Chest Twist

  • Crocodile Twist

When I do these poses and twist with my knees to the left, I can often feel my right ear and right nostril in my nose open up. The reverse is also true. When I twist with my knees to the right, I can often feel my left ear and left nostril pop open.

The poses that seem to cause my ears to close up are the standing poses with outstretched arms, such as the revolved triangle pose and the warrior pose. Most of the other poses are neutral - meaning they neither close nor open up my ears.

One stretch that also seemed to work was to just lie on one side and stretch my top arm up over my ear and then just rest like that for a few minutes. It doesn't always work, but sometimes I'll notice either my ear or nose kind of pop open as the tension gets released from under my shoulder.




Related sections of interest:

Cures for eye floaters

Nystagmus - involuntary movement of the eyes

Dislocated Lenses

Alternative treatments for tinnitus - ringing in the ears

Noise Sensitivity

Clogged Ears - Overlooked Causes

My experience and treatments for the symptoms of vertigo, nausea and cold feet

Stretches For Vertigo


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