ears clogged?

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P&B

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hi,

What would you say when you're going up a mountain by car and your ears "get blocked / clogged"? What is the right word here in English?
I tried to figure it out, and found a medical term: ear barotrauma, but you would surely not say: "Uh, I got ear barotrauma."
Thanks!
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Barotrauma is not the correct word for this minor effect - barotrauma is quite serious: Barotrauma - Wikipedia.

    I would say "My ears are blocked - I've gone deaf." (It is understood from the context that "I have gone deaf" is hyperbole)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I wasn't aware of ears getting actually blocked with air pressure changes. What usually happens is some kind of transition phenomenon, and we tend to say "my ears popped".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I wasn't aware of ears getting actually blocked with air pressure changes.
    They are not. The internal pressure in the ear becomes greater than the external pressure and the tension on the drum increases thus lowering the drum's ability to vibrate - this reduces the perceived noise. "My ears are blocked" is an idiom.

    "My ears popped" describes the sensation that is experienced when the pressure is equalised (usually by swallowing).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hmm... how about an alternative idiom: "My ears have gone." (Obviously, it being a common phenomenon, the circumstances will provide the context.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "My ears popped" sounds good to me. Any sensation of blocked ears in an ascent of a mountain is transitory. "My ears just went" is another expression I've heard - meaning that they just "popped".

    , but you would surely not say: "Uh, I got ear barotrauma."
    No, certainly not when ascending or descending mountains.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Any sensation of blocked ears in an ascent of a mountain is transitory.
    Hmmm... it depends how long "transitory" is and that depends on the state of the eustachian tube... as you will know... ;) I think most of us will have experienced a somewhat prolonged version of "the ears going".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have a wealth of knowledge of both the anatomy and physiology relevant to the effects on the body of atmospheric pressure change with altitude, and personal experience of very rapid pressure changes that few readers of this forum will have encountered.

    The relevant anatomy is such that "blocked" ears occur in the descent, not the ascent.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    My point was mainly that popping is instantaneous as the pressure suddenly equalizes and the state is "blocked" and is durative.
    What would you say when you're going up a mountain by car and your ears "get blocked / clogged"?
    The OP is looking for a phrase - that he has chosen the wrong direction seems irrelevant to the request.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    What would you say when you're going up a mountain by car and your ears "get blocked / clogged"
    As there seems to be some debate, I shall clarify my opinion - neither. My ears don't get blocked going up a mountain by car. Like Edinburgher's, my ears pop. If I have a cold and it's a particularly high mountain I might find my ears feeling blocked on the way down from the mountain.
     
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