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Ear Blockage / Wax Blockage

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What is Ear Blockage?

Ear blockage or blocked ear is a clogged-like feeling in the ear due to a problem in the external ear canal or the middle ear.

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Anatomy of the Ear

The ear consists of the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear has the large cartilaginous part called the pinna. The pinna leads into a short canal, at the end of which is the eardrum or tympanic membrane. The eardrum is a thin membrane that separates the external ear from the middle ear. The middle ear contains three small bones which play an important role in the transmission of vibrations from the external to the internal ear. The middle ear is connected to the back of the nose via the Eustachian tube, which helps to equalize the pressure on either side of the eardrum. The inner ear contains the organ for hearing and balance.

Ear Blockage

What are the Causes of Ear Blockage or Clogged Ear?

A feeling of ear blockage may occur when the external or the middle ear is affected. Causes of ear blockage include:
  • Accumulation of wax in the external ear canal: The external ear canal contains several glands which secrete wax or cerumen. The earwax traps dust particles, and later dries and falls off. Excessive wax may result in cerumen impaction and give a blocked feeling.
  • Entry of water in the ear: Water may enter the ear during swimming or a shower and may remain inside, giving a clogged feeling.
  • Presence of a foreign body or tumor in the ear: Children may put in small nuts or beads into the ear, which may enter the ear canal. Tumors or other growths within the external ear canal may also result in fullness in the ear.
  • Infection or inflammation of the external ear canal: Bacteria or fungi can grow in the external ear canal under suitable conditions resulting in acute otitis externa or infection of the external ear canal. A discharge may be noted in such cases.
  • Changes in air pressure in the middle ear and the external environment: Changes in air pressure on either side of the eardrum may take place while ascending high altitudes or during a flight. People with a swollen Eustachian tube due to a cold or an allergy may find it more difficult to maintain the air pressure within the middle ear.

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What are the Symptoms and Signs of Ear Blockage?

Symptoms of ear blockage usually occur only on the affected side and include:
  • Earache
  • Decreased hearing
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Fever or discharge from the ear in the presence of an infection
  • Loss of balance
  • Earache
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
Symptoms of Ear Blockage - Ear Fullness

How do you Diagnose Ear Blockage?

Diagnosis of ear blockage is based on medical history obtained from the patient and examination of the ear. The doctor may examine the external ear with an instrument called an otoscope and look out for conditions like foreign body or inflammation.

How do you Treat Ear Blockage?

Treatment of ear blockage depends on the cause.
  • If your blocked ear is due to a foreign body, your doctor will remove it with special instruments. A growth or a tumor within the ear canal will have to be surgically removed.
  • For earwax, you can try out wax-dissolving eardrops at home to soften the wax so that it can fall off. The doctor may carry out a process of ear irrigation to remove stubborn wax.
  • An infection of the external ear may need antibiotic ear drops or oral antibiotics.
Antibiotic Ear Drops
  • If the Eustachian tube is swollen due to a cold, decongestant nose drops may provide relief. However, avoid the use of the drops for prolonged durations. Steam inhalation may also help in such situations. Your doctor may also prescribe antihistamine or corticosteroid nose drops to provide relief.
  • If you have a blocked ear due to changes in air pressure, close your mouth, pinch your nose and breathe out forcefully. The air will enter your middle ear and give a popping feeling and relieve the pressure difference. Repeated yawning could also help in equalizing the pressure on either side of the eardrum.

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How do you Prevent Ear Blockage?

Here are some ways in which you can prevent ear blockage:
  • Do not put anything into the ears, whether sharp or blunt.
  • Suck on a hard candy during ascent and descent while flying. The swallowing movements will prevent ear blockage
  • If water enters your ear during swimming, immediately tilt the ear to the affected side so that the water comes out.
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I got up a few days ago and took a bath and a couple hours after My ears feeling clog and the clog comes and go in both ears and a mild pain in both jaw bone, what can cause this to happen
Joan57 Thursday, April 17, 2014
I have a big problem. My 3months old baby has an ear infection. Our ent doctor gave us an eardrops .my problem is there is a blockage in my sons ear which is the dried blood and pus im worried that the drops is not absorb in his affected part of the ear..what should i do? Thankyou
Kanemaverick Sunday, February 9, 2014
why my ears are blocked when my lunch is delayed or skipped?
newfazil1234 Sunday, June 10, 2012
could you find the reason? I have this problem too since couple of months ago. it is weird
zbg465 Friday, September 6, 2013
Hi.........My Husband's ears are block 24/7 they have been for 4 - 5 years we have been to every Dr. we could think of and no one can fine out what is wrong he says it's just like going up in an airplane but they donot unblock can anyone help
Ladydi Wednesday, February 15, 2012
My ear always been block with hardened ear wax. So my doctor ask me to use baby oil to softened it after several days. I can feel a bit watery in my ear, check it with cotton swap and it fills with mainly yellowish ear wax and a bit of blood. What could be the problem?
nza3108 Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Had this ear blockage at the left ear since like 2 or 3 days ago. How can I get rid of this? There's like echo.
th-ousandwords Sunday, January 2, 2011
my ears feels like water had drawn into them for exactly two weeks now. what could be the problem
ms10304 Thursday, November 18, 2010
I have severe ear blockage when i got up after a sleep.This problem is continuing for the last 15 years or so.If i take elegra and betesonal tablets in the night , i get a immediate relief from this condition.As soon as i stop using these medicines the problem returns.I have consulted several ENT specialists,however no permanent cure is found yet.Is there any way i can get rid of this problem?
rauny Thursday, October 21, 2010
My left ear also had such kind of the problem for almost a year. I don't know the reason since then. But when I swallow, the blockage of the left ear will be relief for a while. It makes me very bother. anyone can help me. Pls send a mail to me Thro' masato73@yahoo.com.hk
masatowu Wednesday, March 30, 2011
i woke up this morning and had an ear blockage on my left ear. and i tried all the home remedies but they dont seem to work. and i just went to see a doctor. he only give me ear drops and said i shud come back for syringing on thursday. will this help in any way?
nfino89 Sunday, October 17, 2010
MY EAR GOT BLOCKED SINCE 8 DAYS, FEW DAYS BACK I GOT DRY COUGH WHICH I IGNORED, KINLDY ASSIST HOW TO GET OUT THIS ISSUE.
saurabharchana Monday, August 23, 2010

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