Tips For Unblocking Your Ears

Don't leave blocked ears untreated! Our tips on how to unblock your ears give you several quick and easy solutions for unblocking your ear canal. Having blocked ears is not only an uncomfortable feeling but can also lead to further complications for the ear canal, middle and inner ear. Don't underestimate this problem and take proper action in order to unblock your ear. In this guide, we explain how to unblock ears at home safely, and advise when you need to visit a medical professional. Read on for more information...

What Causes Blocked Ears?

Usually, the cause of blockages is earwax buildup and infections. These can lead to obstruction, growths, vertigo, and in many cases temporary or permanent hearing loss. Our ears are connected to our throat and sinuses. The physiology of this direct connection can be better understood through the Eustachian tubes that connect them both. 

The Eustachian tube is important for the proper functioning of your ears. The tube helps you keep the pressure in your ear equal to that on the outside of your ear. The tube also helps protect your middle ear from bacterial flora and reflux of nasopharyngeal secretions. And finally, the Eustachian tube effectively drains out secretions from the middle ear into your throat, so they don’t get clogged. 

Sometimes your ear can feel blocked because air pressure changes cause the eustachian tubes to become blocked. The Eustachian tubes are the key to your ears opening up and draining fluid. 

Our post on Popping your Ears gives several ways of clearing your ears. If unsure as to the cause, it is best to turn to a specialist for a suitable treatment or advice. 

How to Unblock Ears Safely at Home

One of the most common reasons for blocked ears is the buildup of earwax in the ear canal. Ear wax secretion is natural and serves as a protection from dust and debris for the ear canal. In some ears however, it can accumulate, harden and cause conductive hearing loss. Ear wax removal must be done carefully. Never insert any objects with sharp edges such as hairpins, napkin corners or even cotton buds. Even using a cotton swab can push the wax even deeper in the canal or puncture the sensitive eardrum membrane.

However, there are some popular options that you can try at home, such as various ear wax removal products you can find easily on the market. You can try the Earpal Ear Wax Removal tool that is made from surgical stainless steel and is completely safe to use in the ear canal. For general ear hygiene, it is recommended to use a wash or spray such as Earol Olive Oil Spray to further dissolve wax.

Furthermore, you can browse our complete collection of ear hygiene and cleaning products here. Impacted wax can cause severe discomfort, to prevent this escalating, we advise that you visit a medical professional.  

Can Using Q Tips Worsen Your Blocked Ears? 

Ear wax is actually a healthy substance, and it can help prevent bacteria from causing infections. Ear wax is actually really important for us. It protects our ear canals from infection and helps to protect the delicate skin in the ear canal. Cleaning your ears with Q-tips is not likely to cause permanent damage, but it's possible. The tips are designed for a soft touch and often will only produce an uncomfortable sensation rather than pain or injury when they make contact with sensitive areas in the ear canal . However, Q tips can pose a threat to your ear canals if you use them carelessly. This is why we hear stories about people who trip in the bathroom with Q Tip still inserted and hurting their eardrums in the process. Now, the most dangerous thing about Q-tips is not poking your eardrum, but rather pushing more earwax deeper into the canal. When you use Q Tips, the whole idea is to remove wax from inside of our ears and while it may seem like we're getting rid of all there is -in reality- ear wax gets pushed deeper into our canals. 

How Can You Diagnose Eustachian Tube Dysfunction  

While you're at the doctor, they will talk through your symptoms and examine for blockages in nasal passages or eardrums. The back of your throat will also be examined. The doctor may apply  various techniques to diagnose Eustachian tube dysfunction, including asking you to take a deep breath and swallow as they view your eardrum. They may use specialised tools to measure the level of pressure inside your ears. Negative pressure in the ear can cause pain and muffled hearing over time which is why sometimes doctors see this as an early sign of Eustachian obstruction.

Eustachian tube dysfunction can be very frustrating. It's a common cause of ear discomfort. It's typically felt during flights or when you have a cold. 

Now it's common for people who spend a lot of time in the water to get ear pain, especially among those who go under it at any point . The result may be water getting trapped inside your ear canals when you come back up. 

If you start to notice water in your ears after taking a swim or bath, it's advisable that you use over-the-counter earplugs that are specially designed for swimming and bathing. These might be more expensive than basic foam ones but they'll fit perfectly and are reusable too. 

How to Avoid Clogged Ears on Your Flight? 

To keep your ears from getting blocked on a flight, here are some tricks to prevent it:

Drink plenty of water before and during take-off.  

Don't forget the most important part of flying - your ears! Plug in your earphones to help prevent any cabin pressure from causing pain or discomfort. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candies can also relieve air pressure in the middle of long flights, leaving you feeling less exhausted when landing. Applying nasal spray before taking off or 45 minutes prior to landing can also help.   

When should you seek Professional Help?

If you continue to feel uneasy or suffer discomfort and the ear wax has not been removed with any of the treatments above, it is best to see a specialist and have your ears examined or have your ear syringed if necessary. In many cases where there is long term ear wax compaction, professional removal will be necessary in order not to damage the ear. The blockage may also come from another source. Colds or flu, infection or a foreign object may be the cause and you may need surgical intervention or medication.

Is it Time to Test Your Hearing?

If you think a blockage has impacted your auditory senses, we recommend you take our online hearing test. The check is free, only takes a few minutes, and you'll get your results instantly.

If the test indicates that you may have some form of hearing loss, we advise that you consult with an audiologist or healthcare professional.

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