How do I clear a blocked ear?
Just like people often have stuffy noses, they can also have stuffy ears for a variety of reasons. Clogged ears can crop up because of:
- too much earwax in the Eustachian tube
- water in your ear
- a change in altitude (you may have noticed problems when you fly)
- sinus infections
- middle ear infections
Both children and adults get stuffy ears. Kids may get them a bit more, especially when they have colds.
Sometimes wax builds up and causes symptoms, including mild deafness and a sensation of fullness inside the ear. This condition is harmless and easily treated. In some cases, the wax build-up loosens and falls out by itself without the need for intervention.
If you have no earwax (has to be checked using an otoscope). there are alternative treatments that your doctor will discuss with you.
Symptoms of wax build up
The symptoms of a wax build-up within the ear can include:
- mild deafness
- a sensation of fullness inside the ear
- tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
Diagnosis and treatment for ear wax blockage
Your doctor can diagnose ear wax blockage by looking into your ear canal with an instrument called an otoscope.
Treatment may include:
- drops to soften the ear wax and help it to fall out on its own
- withdrawal of the wax by a doctor, using a suction device
- removal of the wax by a doctor, using forceps or a special hook
- large quantities of hardened wax may need to be treated by an ear specialist.
If you have no earwax (has to be checked using an otoscope). there are alternative treatments that your doctor will discuss with you after diagnosis of the cause of symptoms not caused by wax
Prevention of ear wax blockage
It is not possible to reduce the amount of ear wax you produce or to widen your ear canals. However, there are ways to reduce the incidence of wax build-up, including:
- Use wax-softening drops or oil twice a week, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Avoid cleaning the ear canals with cotton buds or fingertips, as any object poked into the ear can compact the wax.
- Limit ear cleaning to the outer ear only.
- Treat any associated inflammatory skin conditions.