If you have ear pressure or the feeling that there's fluid inside your ear, one of two things is most likely going on: You have an ear infection or you have water in your ear. Either of these situations can be potentially harmful, so you should consult your doctor if the problem does not clear up on its own in a few days. But there are a few things you can do to prevent a worsening of the condition.


If a middle-ear infection is causing the ear pressure, the infection may go away on its own. If there is no pain or worrisome drainage, it is best to just observe your symptoms for a day or two. If there is pain that gets worse and/or pussy, bloody or smelly drainage, the infection may be more serious and probably requires medical attention. If your clogged ear is caused by water that has failed to come out after swimming or a shower, wait a few days and observe. It will probably clear up on its own. If it is still bothering you after about five days you may want to call your doctor.

Apply Heat

If you have any pain or discomfort, you can apply heat to your ear with a warm washcloth or a heating pad on the low setting. The washcloth should be wrung out and not hot enough to scald. Place the washcloth or the heating pad on your ear and apply gentle pressure. Continue to reapply as you need.

Ear Drops

If you are not having a lot of pain or noticing drainage, you can buy some over-the-counter ear drops at the drugstore that might alleviate some of the clogged feeling. Ask the pharmacist what he recommends and then follow the directions on the package. If you have severe pain and/or bloody, pussy or smelly drainage, this is not recommended.

When to See Your Doctor

You should see your doctor if: Any ear pain or itching gets worse over a three-day period; the ear canal, the external ear or the skin around the ear becomes swollen or red or very painful; if worrisome fluid drains from the ear; or if fever or dizziness develop.