Five Common Methods To Unclog Your Ears

02/15/2023 | Patient Resources

Most people will have experienced the unpleasantness of blocked ears. Whether from swimming or flying on an airplane, the discomfort is noticeable but often dissipates on its own.

However, some people will experience clogged ears for other reasons that won’t go away on their own. Impacted earwax is more common than most think. It can cause temporary hearing loss as well as associated symptoms relating to tinnitus and balance.

Our bodies need and produce earwax at their own pace. It’s rare that someone produces more earwax than they need; usually, if this does occur, it’s your body’s response to external factors such as over-cleaning the ears.

Sometimes that earwax has trouble exiting your ear and starts to build up. At this point, intervention to remove the wax is sometimes necessary.

I often hear of patients attempting to remove earwax themselves at home – which in some cases, can be successful, in others – disastrous.

I’d like to outline the most common ways to remove earwax and advise on the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision on your best next steps.

* Remember – “common” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.”

Ear Candling for Clogged Ears

This seems to be the most popular trend, touted as an all-natural way to get fast relief. Thousands of videos show you the best technique to gain optimal results.

The theory of ear candling is that the heat from the candle creates a vacuum and draws out your excess earwax. Most products will show you evidence of this at the end of the candle when done “correctly.”

Unfortunately, we can’t find any evidence of this working effectively and neither can other medical professionals. The residue at the end of the candle has been speculated to be from the beeswax cone rather than earwax like most believe.

The risks of this approach far outweigh the benefits. Burning yourself, your hair, or your surroundings can happen, and we strongly recommend against this method.

Cotton Swabs

Before ear candling, there were cotton swabs. Used by moms far and wide, we have all experienced someone poking around our ears with a cotton swab.

While intentions are good, this is not an acceptable method to remove earwax.

It may seem like this method works when you see the results on the end of your cotton swab. But for every bit of wax you remove, you push in just as much, if not more. This is the leading cause of impacted earwax.

Do this regularly over a lifetime, and the chances of developing a hearing loss will start to compound. If you poke too deep or someone bumps your elbow, you could cause damage to your eardrum or inner ear.

Cotton swabs have many uses; cleaning inside your ear is not one of them. We recommend avoiding this method altogether.

Over-The-Counter Ear Drops

This method can help those with a mild case of blocked ears. Ear drops have proven to help loosen earwax and restore hearing functions but only with those who don’t have a severe problem.

The only issue with this is correctly diagnosing yourself as a mild case. Often, people let a problem persist for too long. By the time they are ready to do something about it (like getting ear drops), their situation has already surpassed that solution.

At this point, spending hard-earned money on ear drops, no matter how affordable they may seem, will do nothing for your hearing.

The low price of ear drops can be attractive and may work for patients with minimal wax buildup, but seeking advice from an audiologist will confirm your suspicions.

Olive Oil

A similar solution to eardrops, olive oil works by softening wax that has built up in the ears.

It’s a method that goes back centuries – and we can see why. A simple household item like olive oil would frequently find use elsewhere outside of the kitchen.

This method is relatively safe, so long as the person using it doesn’t have a history of allergies to olive oil or a perforated eardrum – please avoid this method if this is the case for you.

Removing earwax using this method does require patience, as it can take up to a few days for the oil to soften the wax and for it to eventually fall out.

Just like over-the-counter drops, this method works for mild cases only.

Visit An Audiologist

You may have seen this coming, but visiting an audiologist is the best way to know what is causing your clogged ears and the only guaranteed method of successfully and safely treating them.

We have the training, experience, and tools to treat your blocked ears. We can also identify its origins to help prevent it from happening again.

We can gently remove your excess earwax by utilizing professional equipment, such as an earigator, head loop, and manual removal. We have helped thousands of residents in La Grande unblock their ears and get back to life with comfortable hearing.

We are always available to answer your hearing-related questions.

You can schedule your appointment right here to get your ears cleaned and back to normal. Take care of them now, and they will take care of you for the rest of your life.

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Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.

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