Ear congestion is experienced on a regular basis by people all around the world. There are several reasons for it, here are a few.
1) Viral infection. Having a viral infection of the upper airways can cause ear congestion. A cold can be the root cause. The inflammation blocks the Eustachian tube and stops it ventilating the middle ear properly. The air in the middle ear space is absorbed and replaced with fluid. This doesn't conduct sound well so hearing is dull and the ear feels full and congested. Paracetamol will make you feel better and ibuprofen can relieve pain and inflammation. Decongestants can really help to open up the passages and unblock your ears as well. Try pseudoephedrine over-the-counter.
2) Allergy. Allergic rhinitis and hayfever can cause inflammation in the nasal passages. This can cause Eustachian tube blockage as described above. Try a steroid spray containing beclometasone. This is also available over-the-counter. Antihistamines can help, as can the antiinflammatories and decongestants mentioned previously.
3) Surfer's ear. Chronic exposure to cold wind and rain causes the ear canals to narrow in surfers and sea swimmers. The narrowing can cause clogging of the ears with muffled hearing and ear congestion. Avoid the problem by regularly wearing a surfing cap and ZenPlugs Ear Plugs. Once you have the condition the only curative treatment is to have the extra bone in your ear canal drilled or chiselled away.
4) Ear wax. Dried and impacted ear wax can muffle hearing and make your ears feel clogged. This can be made worse acutely by water getting in the ears and soaking the wax. Hearing can become more muffled after swimming or having a bath. It can take some time for the ear canals to dry out. Speak to your pharmacist about drops to soften the wax. Alternatively warm olive oil can help. Sometimes suctioning will be required, speak to your GP for a referral. This is now recommended over syringing which can result in tinnitus.