McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

You try swallowing hard and yawning but to no avail, your ears are clogged and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve tried opening your ear canal with your finger, popping your ear, and even chewing gum. Hoping your ears will simply clear up by themselves, at some point you may just stop trying. But if you have discharge, discomfort, or the symptoms of an ear infection, this would be a bad idea.

Your Eustachian tube, a small passageway that links your middle ear to the space behind your nose and controls the air pressure level in your ears, can become plugged if it stays closed or open for too long. You might notice a popping and crackling noise in your ears as this tube closes and opens when you swallow or yawn. Typical hormonal changes cause the ear to stay open and viruses or ear infections will cause the ear to remain closed. It may take your ears a little while to go back to normal but both problems will recede over time.

Blocked ears can also be caused by a buildup of earwax. Ear treatment can clear this type of clog, either at home or at a hearing specialist depending on its severity. Here are some tips when dealing with clogged ears:

You Can Try Putting Hydrogen Peroxide Drops into Your Ear

Hydrogen peroxide, if properly implemented, can break up earwax. Hearing specialists suggest that you mix the solution with warm water making certain that the water isn’t too hot and then putting a drop or two into your ear with a pipette. Your ear should be tilted upward as you put the drops into your ear and you should stay that way for several seconds to allow the hydrogen peroxide to break down the earwax blockage. Eventually, the blockage should clear but you might need to repeat the process for a few days.

Don’t Put Anything in Your Ear to Clean it

Seriously, this is worth restating: never use a cotton swab to try and unclog your ear, because you will only cause things to get worse. Cotton swabs can cause complete blockage by forcing the earwax into the eardrum. Even hearing aids and earplugs can, in fact, result in an earwax clog. In order to prevent earwax accumulation, you should use cotton swabs only on your outer ear.

Your Allergies Need to be Managed

If you have allergies, it can cause a clogged ear to get worse. Follow your doctor’s directions concerning how to treat your allergies and never forget to take your medication. Stay away from any unneeded allergens, especially during allergy season.

Be Suspicious of Home Remedies That Sound Strange

You should not stick a lit candle in your ear which should go without saying. Ear candling is an old technique of inserting a hollow candle into your ear and lighting it which is very unscientific. The theory is that earwax is drawn into the hollow space inside the candle when the heat of the flame creates a vacuum. This approach will likely cause more harm and probably won’t help. Remember, if it sounds strange you should ask a professional. Randomly trying anything is a massive danger to your hearing.

You should contact us if your ears don’t clear up. Long-term hearing loss or a burst eardrum are the kinds of consequences you could experience from improper earwax removal.