The ear canal has hair follicles and glands. The glands produce a waxy oil called cerumen which protects the ear from dust, bacteria, and foreign particles and prevents these from entering and damaging the ear.
The wax moves to the opening of the ear gradually and falls out or is removed by washing. The extent of wax secretion in the ears differs with people; some secrete excessive wax in comparison to others. For such people, wax hardens inside the ear canal, which could end up blocking the ear. The condition worsens, when the wax gets pushed inside during the cleaning process, resulting in ear blockage.
Wax blockage is one of the most common causes of deafness.
Other causes of ear blockage
1. Foreign body lodged within the ear can give rise to a sensation of block. This is common in children. One should not attempt to remove it by oneself; having it removed by a doctor is advisable.
2. Acute otitis externa or inflammation of the ear canal can give rise to a sensation of block. This also needs an examination by an ENT specialist. It can be treated with the help of medicines.
3. Eustachian catarrh or inflammation of the eustachian tube happens whenever one has a cold. This is a tube that connects the throat to the middle ear and during a cold this tube gets inflammed , giving a blocked feeling.
4. Tumors or growths within the ear canal can also give rise to a blocked feeling. This can be diagnosed by an ENT specialist.
Another common cause of 'blocked ear ' occurs when we travel in an aeroplane. When the aircraft ascends or descends, the air pressure within the cabin of the aircraft changes. This leads to pressure changes across the middle and outer ear which is reflected as a blocked feeling in the ear. This can be remedied by sucking on a sweet or lozenge during take off or landing. The problem gets corrected as soon as take off or landing is complete.