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

We’ve all experienced this, the unpleasant feeling when your ear is clogged and no amount of swallowing and yawning can make it feel better. You’ve tried opening your ear canal with your finger, popping your ear, and even chewing gum. Hoping your ears will just unclog on their own, at some point you may just give up. But if you have drainage, pain, or the signs of an ear infection, this would be a bad idea.

Your Eustachian tube, a little passageway that connects your middle ear to the space behind your nose and controls the air pressure level in your ears, can get blocked if it stays closed or open for longer than it should. The tube naturally opens and closes as you yawn or swallow, which you may notice by a crackling noise or pop in your ears. Normal hormonal changes cause the ear to stay open and viruses or ear infections will cause the ear to stay closed. Both issues will go away with time, but it could take quite a while for your ears to get back to normal.

Blocked ears can also be caused by a buildup of earwax. This type of ear clog can be cleared with treatments, depending on the severeness, this can be at home or at the hearing specialist. When managing blocked ears, here are some tips:

Try Droplets of Hydrogen Peroxide in Your Ear

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to break up earwax blockages, but it must be applied in your ear properly. Mixing the peroxide with luke warm water and using a pipette to slowly put it in your ear is the professional’s recommendation. Your ear should be tilted upward while you place the drops into your ear and you should stay that way for a few seconds to allow the hydrogen peroxide to break down the earwax clog. Ultimately, the clog should clear up but you may need to repeat the process for a few days.

Never Clean Your Ear by Putting Something in it

Seriously, this is worth repeating: never use a cotton swab to try and unblock your ear, because you will only cause things to get worse. Cotton swabs can cause total blockage by forcing the earwax against the eardrum. Actually, anything that gets inserted in your ears could lead to an earwax blockage, including earplugs and hearing aids. To lessen earwax accumulation, you should only use cotton swabs on your outer ear.

Treat Your Allergies

Plugged ears are commonly made worse by allergies. Take your allergy treatments and follow your doctor’s directions on how to deal with it. Avoid any unnecessary allergens, particularly during allergy season.

If a Remedy Sounds Strange, Avoid it

It probably goes without saying, but you certainly should never put a lit candle into your ear to clean out an earwax clog. Ear candling is an old and very unscientific way of clearing earwax by sticking a hollow candle in your ear and lighting it. The theory is that earwax is pulled into the hollow space inside the candle when the heat of the flame creates a vacuum. This approach will most likely cause more damage and probably won’t help. Always remember, if it sounds wrong you should ask an expert. Randomly trying anything is a huge risk to your hearing.

You should contact us if all else fails. Incorrect wax removal can lead to serious issues in your ears, like a burst eardrum or lasting hearing loss.

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