If you or a loved one has been struggling with a blocked or clogged sensation in one or both of your ears lately, it could be because you’ve got a buildup of earwax.
You don’t need to worry about this, though, as earwax (or cerumen) is actually a very natural substance that works to protect your ears from unwelcome debris.
It also has protective properties that prevent bacteria from reaching the inner ear and prevent the growth of certain bacteria and fungi that can lead to ear infections.
(See, we told you not to worry.)
However, there is a downside to earwax, and that’s usually when it builds up and over-accumulates. When this happens, some uncomfortable symptoms can follow, such as a temporary or a sudden hearing loss, a feeling of fullness in your ear, dizziness, headaches, balance issues, and ear pain.
We often find that patients visit us when they are concerned that they have a hearing loss, only to discover that the actual reason for their reduced level of hearing is due to a buildup of earwax, and a professional clean is required.
Our professional opinion: This is why over-the-counter hearing aids that don’t require a hearing test or simple hearing screenings where a hearing professional doesn’t look into your ears are so dangerous and have thousands of people needlessly investing in hearing aids.
If you go online to explore ways to unblock your ears or remove earwax, there’s no shortage of options and advice. The problem is, some of the home remedies that are available and recommended are incredibly dangerous, while others are just weird and a waste of time.
In this article, we’re going to explore the five most common ways to unclog your blocked ears and remove earwax, with the pros and cons of each.
The 5 Most Common Ways To Unblock Your Ears
#1 – Over-the-Counter Ear Drops
Any form of an over-the-counter product usually has its place for very mild cases, and ear drops are no different.
They’re recommended for people with a “small amount of earwax,” which is very difficult to self-diagnose, as none of us really know how much wax is too much or not enough.
But as a general rule of thumb, if you feel that you have a buildup of earwax or blocked ears, then you’ve likely gone beyond the level of having a “small amount of earwax.”
The question is whether you want to try this DIY approach first to see if it makes the difference that you’re looking for before consulting a professional.
With over-the-counter ear drops available for around $10.00 – they’re low priced and can make an impact for very small buildups of earwax.
As audiologists, we believe this method is quite harmless but perhaps not very effective.
#2 – Pour Hot-Wax Candles Inside Your Ear Canal
If your first thought here is, “Why would I want to add wax to wax?” then we applaud your thinking, as you’re absolutely right.
Believe it or not, using candles as a solution to unclog your ears is crazily an approach that is often spoken about online.
However, this is incredibly dangerous.
Not only will you likely burn your face, but drips of hot wax into your ears will also cause damage and likely result in much worse problems.
Please do not use this method to tackle an ear blockage – in fact, avoid it at all costs.
#3 – Pick Out The Wax Using A Cotton Swab
Using a Q-tip or cotton swab to try to remove earwax is just plain wrong.
The problem is, this is often the reason for the buildup of earwax, as a cotton swab often leads to wax being pushed deeper into your ear canal, and if you go too deep with the cotton swab, it can lead to more serious damage.
If our advice to children is that we shouldn’t stick stuff into our ears, then we definitely need to listen to that too!
#4 – Drip Olive Oil Into Your Ear Canal
Using olive oil for earwax has been an approach that has been used for many years, and it’s generally safe to use in small quantities.
The olive oil will soften the impacted wax causing the hearing loss, and with consistency over several days, it will result in the earwax unclogging and falling out of your ear.
There are many low-cost, over-the-counter olive oils available for this exact reason, and it’s a very straightforward approach.
However, it does come with a warning.
If you have a ruptured eardrum or any history of allergies toward olive oil, then you should avoid this approach, as it could lead to further complications.
Similar to the over-the-counter eardrops, if you have a very mild buildup of earwax and you’re happy to take a slow approach to find a solution, then olive oil is a great potential option for you.
#5 – See An Audiologist/Hearing Healthcare Specialist
The final approach is also the approach that is the most recommended and safest option, and that’s to visit an audiologist.
If you’re experiencing signs of blocked ears, then it’s likely that you’ve passed the window where the other common at-home approaches will be effective for you, and you’ll require the attention of a specialist.
By utilizing professional equipment, a doctor will be able to look into your ears using a video otoscope to see exactly what you’re dealing with and then use a syringe filled with water and gently insert it into your ear to flush out the compacted wax.
For tougher-to-reach blockages, a curette will be used. This is a skinny, scoop-like tool that allows us to carefully remove the wax.
It also means that if there are any additional reasons for your blocked ears, they can be professionally dealt with and addressed to ensure your long-term hearing health is not compromised.
Earwax Removal Experts In North Houston & Spring
If you’re looking for a team of doctors of audiology to help, then the team at North Houston Hearing Solutions has helped thousands of ears over many years, and they have helped hundreds of people in your exact situation.