Ear fullness, or a feeling that the ears are stopped up, can result from fluid accumulation due to an infection, ear wax build up, an allergic reaction, a tumor and changes in air pressure, according to HealthGrades. Sometimes it results from a foreign body becoming lodged in the ear canal.
Other potential causes of ear fullness include exposure to loud noises, influenza and colds, explains HealthGrades. It is also possible that a potentially life-threatening infection of the bone behind the ear is the cause of ear fullness. This condition, known as mastoiditis, requires immediate medical attention. Most often, ear fullness resolves in a few days.
Ear stuffiness or fullness accompanied by cold or flu symptoms is most often caused by a blocked Eustachian tube, according to HealthGrades. The Eustachian tube connects to the throat and allows the ears to drain fluid from the middle ear. When this becomes blocked, it can cause an infection in the middle ear, which leads to pain and swelling.
Determining the cause of ear fullness is important for avoiding potential complications such as permanent hearing loss, the spread of infection and recurring ear infections, according to HealthGrades. In some cases, complications such as meningitis, which is an infection of the sac around the brain and spinal cord, can occur. Speech and language impairment as well as facial paralysis are other potential complications.