Clogged ears may not necessarily cause pain, but straining to hear can create an unpleasant experience and constitute a kind of nuisance. When your ear is clogged, you notice it immediately. It affects your perception of the environment and never completely goes away on its own.
Depending on the origin of the wax plug, the problem can be nagging, uncomfortable, and embarrassing or present a health risk. It is best to treat blocked ears as quickly as possible.
Where and how to start? What techniques should be used? How can you unclog your ears as quickly as possible without risk of injury? Below are handy guides to unclogging a clogged ear.
Identify The Causes Of A Clogged Ear
Why do people have clogged ears? Common causes are excess ear wax, sinus pressure, ear infections, fluid in the ear, and noise damage. Other conditions include clogged ears on planes and swimmer’s ear ( otitis).
One of the main causes of clogged ears is earwax. It is important to understand that the amount of earwax produced depends on the person, so there is no typical volume. It’s important to understand that earwax is not a bad thing, it is of natural origin, has antibiotic properties, and protects the ears against dust, water, bacteria, fungi, and hair. It also lubricates the ear, collecting dead skin and pushing it towards the outer ear- where it is naturally expelled through a self-cleaning process.
However, it can happen that excess earwax will build up and cause a series of related problems. It can affect hearing, cause earaches, and lead to infections.
It can be caused by narrow ear canals, growths in the ear, or ears that are too hairy. Some people also naturally have harder, drier earwax. The elderly are particularly prone to it; earwax generally becomes drier with age.
However, using cotton swabs to remove earwax will definitely make the situation worse. They push it back into the ear, where it accumulates and hardens deeper inside.
What To Avoid When Trying To Unclog Your Ears
As tempting as it may be, do not stick a cotton swab, tissue, towel, finger, bobby pin, chopstick, or other object into your ear to try to clear clogged earwax. Unclogging your ear also risks causing micro cuts, trapping dirt and bacteria in your outer ear canal, puncturing your eardrum, and causing other permanent damage. You also push earwax further and deeper into your ear, where it will continue to build up, harden, and become more difficult to dislodge.
For the most part, healthcare professionals do not advise patients to clean their ears regularly. Using ear candles is another practice to avoid. It is believed that the hot air from the candle creates a vacuum which sucks out the earwax.
No scientific evidence confirms the effectiveness of this technique. On the other hand, there are enough testimonies of people burned by spilling candle wax on their necks and faces and even in their ears. This may result in hearing loss.
Symptoms Of Clogged Ears
The most obvious symptom of a clogged ear is, of course, hearing loss. However, there are many related side effects, which can produce a range of symptoms. Among these, we find:
- An excessive earwax blockage
- Itchy ears
- Clicking in the ears and sinuses
- Muffled sounds
- Slight hearing loss
- If you have an ear or sinus infection, you may also notice a blockage, severe or localized ear pain, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, fever, and rash.
- Clogged ears can also result from excess water in the ear (from swimming or even showering), and physical damage to the outer ear.
How To Unclog Your Ear
The good news is that most of the time the ears are only temporarily clogged. In some cases, the disorder can resolve on its own and, in others, can be easily treated with home remedies to unclog the ear.
- Move your jaw
- Try a balancing maneuver
- Use steam
- Try a warm cloth
- Use ear wax softeners
- Eliminate excess wax
- Try earplug
- If your ear regularly becomes blocked with earwax, you may also need manual earwax extraction.
Earwax blockage is usually removed using special equipment. Some of these equipment use suction mechanisms. A thin instrument with a hoop end can also be used for ear wax cleaning. Ear irrigation is another removing earwax system using an electric pump.
The Bottom Line
It is important to understand that medical professionals not only relieve and clear clogged ears, they also facilitate your healing. For example, if you have an ear infection (or sinusitis) that affects your hearing, you may need to be prescribed antibiotics.