I’ve seen many patients with blocked ears as a hearing care provider.
As you can imagine, it can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. While earwax protects our ears, an excessive build-up can lead to hearing loss, infections, and discomfort.
Many people turn to cotton swabs (or worse) for ear cleaning, which can be dangerous and lead to further complications.
What Earwax Is and Why It’s Important
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced within your ear canals.
It’s a mixture of dead skin cells, hair, and secretions from the glands in the ear.
Earwax serves several purposes:
- Lubricating your ear canals
- Trapping incoming dirt and debris
- Protecting your ears from infection
In most cases, earwax naturally makes its way out of the canal by itself. However, some people may produce more earwax than others. This can lead to an excessive build-up and compaction.
Signs of Excessive Earwax Buildup
Excessive earwax build-up can cause:
- Reduced hearing
- Tinnitus (otherwise known as ringing in your ears)
- Itching and/or discharge from your ear
There are several home remedies you can try, but two of them are potentially harmful and should be avoided.
Here are the five most common ways to unblock your ears:
1. Cotton Swabs for Ear Cleaning
Many people use cotton swabs to clean their ears, but this can be dangerous.
Cotton swabs can push earwax further into your ear canal and can even damage your eardrum or cause an infection. In fact, using cotton swabs is probably the underlying reason for your earwax build-up in the first place.
Steer clear of this method as well as the next one, which is even worse than cotton swabs.
2. Ear Candling
Ear candling is a controversial natural earwax removal method that involves placing a hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal.
The candle is lit, and the heat creates a vacuum that pulls out the earwax.
According to popular online beliefs, this is supposed to extract the wax.
However, there’s a serious lack of credible evidence this technique is actually effective.
Just the opposite, in fact. Many resources claim the wax left after the cone has burned is just residue from the beeswax itself.
However, your chances of you burning your skin, ear canal or your hair are very high.
Avoid this method at all costs. It doesn’t work and there’s potential for serious injury too.
3. Over-The-Counter Ear Drops
Ear drops are an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment widely available in most pharmacies. They’re typically inexpensive and they’re easy to apply at home.
However, OTC ear drops can only relieve mild cases of earwax buildup. This isn’t helpful if your condition is beyond “mild” by the time you begin noticing symptoms.
This causes a problem: Do you risk delaying treatment with an ineffective OTC solution? Or should you consult a hearing healthcare team instead?
The same problem exists with this next popular home remedy.
4. Using Olive Oil Might Provide Relief
Olive oil is usually safe to use when applied to your ear canal in small quantities. There are many low-cost OTC olive oils available for this reason.
However, it often takes several days for the oil to soften the wax. This means the wax buildup won’t be soft enough to remove until several oil treatments have been made.
There are three other potential drawbacks:
- If you have a history of allergies to olive oil, this treatment isn’t recommended
- If you have a ruptured eardrum, olive oil treatments can worsen this condition
- As with OTC ear drops, this method typically only works well for mild earwax buildups
If you’re willing to tolerate these limitations, the olive oil method may work for you.
5. Visit A Hearing Care Provider
While it’s not a “home remedy,” visiting a hearing care provider is by far the best way to properly address your earwax buildup.
That’s because if you’re experiencing at least one of the more noticeable signs of blocked ears, you’ve probably passed the point where at-home approaches will be effective.
That’s when you need the attention of our hearing healthcare team at Port Credit Audiology and Hearing Aid Clinic.
We’re an independent business that proudly serves our community with a strong culture of always doing the right thing for our patients.
Earwax Removal Assistance in Missisauga
Port Credit Audiology & Hearing Aid Clinic’s hearing healthcare team can provide the relief you seek from troublesome earwax buildup.
We apply a strong focus on audiological best practises. Hundreds of local families trust us to meet their hearing healthcare needs.
Our modern, comfortable clinic is here for the long haul. In fact, our office in Mississauga has everything you need for effective treatment.
We’re always happy to help and look forward to hearing from you.