Hearing Health Blog

Woman trying to clear a clogged ear by shaking water out of it.

We’ve all experienced this, the annoying feeling when your ear is clogged and no amount of swallowing and yawning can help it. You’ve attempted chewing gum, popping your ears, and opening your ear canal with your finger. Hoping your ears will just unclog on their own, eventually, you may just give up. But if you have drainage, pain, or the signs of an ear infection, this would be an unwise idea.

Your Eustachian tube, a small passageway that attaches your middle ear to the space behind your nose and controls the air pressure level in your ears, can become clogged if it stays closed or open for longer than it should. The tube normally opens and closes as you yawn or swallow, which you may notice by a crackling noise or pop in your ears. Typical hormonal changes cause the ear to stay open and viruses or ear infections will cause the ear to remain closed. It might take your ears a while to return to normal but both problems will go away over time.

Another cause of plugged ears is buildup of earwax. This type of ear blockage can be eliminated with treatments, depending on the severity, this can be at home or at the hearing specialist. Here are a few guidelines when dealing with clogged ears:

You Can Try Putting Hydrogen Peroxide Drops in Your Ear

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to break up earwax blockages, but it must be applied in your ear correctly. Mixing the peroxide with luke warm water and using a dropper to slowly put it in your ear is the professional’s suggestion. After you tilt your ear upward and put the drops in, a few seconds should be sufficient to break up the wax blockage. Ultimately, the clog should clear up but you might need to repeat the process for several days.

Sticking Something into Your Ear is Never The Right Way to Clean it

This can’t be overstated: never use a cotton swab to try to unclog your ear, because you will only cause things to get worse. Cotton swabs actually push earwax deeper into your ear canal, which can cause a total blockage. In fact, anything that is inserted in your ears could lead to an earwax block, and that includes hearing aids and earplugs. Cotton swabs should only be used on your outer ear so that you can avoid causing blockage.

Your Allergies Need to be Treated

If you suffer from allergies, it can cause a clogged ear to get worse. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding managing your allergies and never forget to take your treatment. Steer clear of any unnecessary allergens, especially during allergy season.

If a Remedy Sounds Strange, Avoid it

You shouldn’t put a lit candle in your ear which should go without saying. Ear candling is an old and very unscientific method of clearing earwax by putting a hollow candle into your ear and lighting it. The theory is that earwax is pulled into the hollow space in the candle when the heat of the flame causes a vacuum. This method will most likely cause more damage and probably won’t help. Keep in mind, if it sounds wrong you should ask an expert. Don’t risk losing your hearing by just trying things.

When all else fails, you should give us a call. Incorrect wax removal can lead to serious problems in your ears, like a ruptured eardrum or irreversible hearing loss.

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