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What Can I Do if My Ear is Clogged and I Can't Hear?

a young man having his ear examined by an audiologist

When your ear feels clogged and your hearing is affected, it can be worrying. But instead of panicking or trying something that can make the sensation worse, it’s important to do the right thing. This can be difficult to work out, so it’s essential for you to follow the right guidelines. Ideally, you’re going to work with your hearing instrument specialist (HIS) on this, but the below information is also going to help you. Because most of the time, it’s earwax impaction that you’re dealing with. Let’s take a look.

Why is your ear clogged?

To start with, you may be worried about the cause of your ear blockage. And this is where the idea of earwax impaction comes in. Sometimes, you can have a health condition that will cause a buildup of wax in the ear, like eczema. It can also happen when you’re often putting things into your ears, such as a hearing aid.

What is earwax impaction?

We all have earwax within the ear. It’s that waxy yellow substance that sits within the ear canal. The canal is the section of the ear that runs from the out of the ear to the eardrum in the form of a tube. Earwax is essential to protecting the ear from anything from infection to strange objects. However, when this starts to build up, it becomes earwax impaction.

It’s very normal for earwax to travel through the ear to the outer ear yet this can be interrupted. It could even be because your body naturally makes too much earwax. It’s often the case that older people have more earwax too as it tends to get harder as you age.

What causes earwax impaction?

Maybe you’re curious about the cause of earwax impaction? While your hearing instrument specialist can advise you on this, it’s a good idea to understand some of the common causes, which include:

  • Skin diseases like eczema
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
  • Infectious diseases like swimmer’s ear
  • Naturally narrow ear canal
  • Overproduction of earwax

Earwax impaction and your hearing aid

As we have previously mentioned, the use of a hearing aid can lead to a build-up of earwax. Your hearing instrument specialist can advise you here, but you might want to ensure that you’re using the best possible style of hearing aid, whether that’s in the ear, behind the ear or in the canal.

Symptoms of earwax impaction

If you’re unsure as to whether you have earwax impaction or not, it’s a good idea for you to understand the symptoms. However, it is important to know that this doesn’t always cause symptoms. It can be the case that it only gets this far when there’s an extensive build up. These can include:

  • A loss of hearing
  • Earache
  • A feeling of ear fullness
  • Itching
  • Dizzy spells
  • A ringing in the ear
  • A cough

You may or may not have all of the symptoms, it could just be one. So, it’s important to consult with your HIS if you’re concerned.

Treatment options

The next stage is for you to think about the ways that you can treat your build up. First of all, your hearing instrument specialist will need to carry out a physical exam and carry out some hearing tests. You could even be diagnosed without having any symptoms if you’re given an exam for any other reason.

However, when it comes to treatment, you could expect some of the below;

  • A medicine to specifically break down the earwax that is dropped directly into the ear canal.
  • An irrigation of the ear canal using water, administered by your HIS.
  • A form of manual removal carried out by your HIS using specialist tools.

It’s important that your case is treated as this is highly likely to go away without any treatment. The treatment you do receive can also depend on the severity of your case. Your specialist will also advise against home treatment, so be sure to speak to them first.

How to prevent it

It’s often a good idea to work on preventing earwax impaction. If you have a health condition that causes it, this can be hard to do. But if not, you can speak to your hearing instrument specialist to get specific prevention advice for your own case.

Working with your HIS

If you’d like to learn more about Niagara Hearing and Speech Clinic and what we can do for you, call us at 905-938-1661.