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What Can You Do if Your Ear is Clogged and You Can't Hear?

a hand cupped to an ear

Your ears are important organ, they interpret the sound waves sent to your brain and also help you to keep your balance. In your ears is a canal that enables the influx of sound waves and the outflow of ear wax. 

There are, however, times when your ears can become clogged from factor both outside and inside the ears. Having clogged ears can at times, affect someone’s hearing and sense of balance as well as some discomfort. 

Below we are going to have a look at some of the various causes of clogged ears, a few remedies, and when you should see your doctor or audiologist

Causes of clogged ears 

There can be many different reasons your ears feel clogged. Some of the most common causes of clogged ears include:

  • Barotrauma of the ear: This is also known as airplane ear. The condition happens when the ear can’t properly pressurize from the changing air pressure on an airplane. 
  • Ear infection: When you have an ear infection you may experience an increase in fluid production, this can lead to your ears becoming clogged. Also referred to as otitis media, an ear infection happens when fluid gathers in the ear, and bacteria or a virus starts to multiply the liquid. This can cause the sensation of clogged ears. Ear infections are more likely to occur after a cold or other illness that increases the mucus in your head. Sometimes wearers of hearing aids are more prone to having ear infections. 
  • Earwax impaction: When you have excess earwax, it can lead to a buildup of wax that blocks the ear canal. This can give you the feeling of clogged ears. Sometimes hearing aids can lead to earwax impaction, this is because the earwax can’t escape as easily because of the placement of the hearing aids. 
  • Foreign objects in the ear: This is often more common with curious small children, who sometimes stick small items in their ears. However, at times, small objects such as the end of a cotton bud can become lodged in the ear canal. 
  • Swimmer’s ear: When a person’s ears are exposed to water, the water can sometimes become trapped in the ear. This can lead to an infection. Swimmers are the ones who are most commonly prone to this condition, but it is still possible to get swimmers’ ears from the bath, shower, and other wet environments. 

Remedies 

Your ear produces earwax naturally, things like chewing and speaking, will usually naturally help to remove it. As an overall rule, you shouldn’t be using any invasive remedies as home-treatments for clogged ears. It is best to seek the help of a professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendation. Many of these common at-home remedies include: 

  • Drops: Softening the wax with items such as baby oil, olive oil or mineral oil. 
  • Ear syringing: Your hearing professional may use this method to remove excess wax.
  • Airplane ear: If you experience this after your journey you could try: 
  • Valsalva maneuver: Passive techniques like yawning, drinking water or chewing gum
  • Hearing protection: Earplugs designed for people who experience airplane ear.

Safety

Some items that are available on the market for earwax removal and unclogging ears can be unsafe to use. Some even have the potential to cause hearing loss. This means it is vital for you are completely safe and comfortable before completing any remedies yourself. 

One simple example is using cotton buds to clean your ears, although they seem simple and easy to use, they can lead to blockages in the ear if any remanence is left in the ear canal or push earwax further into the ear canal.  This can leave you more open to ear infections. 

When to see a doctor or audiologist 

It’s important to know that you can sometimes cause more damage when you attempt to unclog your ears yourself. If your ears don’t unclog easily then you may need to see your doctor your audiologist. The various causes of clogged ears all need different treatments. 

In many instances, it is better to see a professional unclog your ears. 

If your clogged ears don’t resolve easily at home, and you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you should see your doctor or audiologist: 

  • A fever 
  • Moderate or severe ear pain
  • Pain that is getting worst
  • A fluid that is draining from the ears that contains puss or blood
  • Changes in hearing
  • Dizziness

If you think that you might have clogged ears or want to learn more then don’t hesitate to contact Audiology Associates at 707-827-1630