Common blocked ear symptoms can include everything from hearing loss and tinnitus to discharge and dizziness. Ear blockage symptoms may be a result of problems in the outer, middle or inner ear. A common cause of the outer ear becoming blocked is a build-up of ear wax or wax becoming impacted in the outer ear canal. Ear wax build up symptoms can be irritating, frustrating, and sometimes even painful. Thankfully, there are ways to ease blocked ear symptoms. Here, we’ll explain common blocked ear symptoms, why your ears might be blocked, and how to clear blocked ears.
Blocked Ear Symptoms
The most obvious symptoms of blocked ears are usually a feeling of fullness or hearing loss, yet there are several other symptoms that can mean you have a build-up of ear wax.
1. Hearing Loss
Hearing loss may be the result of any problem with the outer, middle, or inner ear. It can happen in one or both ears and be one of the most frustrating ear wax build up symptoms. Hearing loss may be sudden and unexpected, and signal that ear wax has become impacted. If you experience hearing loss, it’s important to get it checked and, if earwax is the cause, to arrange ear wax removal.
2. Ear Pain
Blocked ear symptoms can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful. Ear pain can be the result of hard ear wax or severely impacted wax. This may be due to an underlying ear infection and ear wax putting pressure on the eardrum, or even causing the eardrum to burst.
3. Tinnitus Or Ringing In The Ears
Tinnitus (a persistent ringing in the ears) can be one of the symptoms of blocked ears. However, this isn’t always the case. If your tinnitus doesn’t go away following ear microsuction, it may require further investigation. This is particularly true if the ringing you’re experiencing is one-sided. So, although tinnitus can be one of the symptoms of blocked ears, it can also signal a more long-term problem.
4. Popping Ears
A popping or crackling sensation in your ear can be a sign that your ears are blocked. It may be more obvious when you swallow or blow your nose, and may be due to a build-up of fluid in your middle ear. If accompanied by a feeling of fullness in your ear or ears, you are likely experiencing some typical ear blockage symptoms.
5. Discharge From The Ear
If you have a build-up of soft or wet earwax, symptoms may include discharge. Discharge is also one of the common ear infection symptoms, and is often due to an infection of the outer ear in particular.
6. Fullness Of The Ear
Ear wax build up symptoms nearly always include a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear for obvious reasons. This may be due to a deep blockage of ear wax in the ear canal, which will require professional ear wax removal.
If an ear wax build-up continues, you may start to feel that your ears are completely blocked because ear wax has become impacted in the ear canal. Although microsuction can often relieve this, sometimes clinicians will need to use instruments such as micro-forceps to remove harder, particularly impacted wax.
7. Itching, Irritation Or Discomfort
Itching, irritation, or general discomfort can all be symptoms of blocked ears, often due to a build-up of hard ear wax. However, they can also be ear infection symptoms and can be due to eczema or dryness in the ear canal causing dry skin, inflammation and itchiness.
8. Dizziness Or Balance Issues
Dizziness, although not one of the most common blocked ear symptoms, can occur as a result of a blocked ear throwing your balance off. However, it’s most often due to another issue, and so it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Ear Infection Symptoms
If an ear infection is caused by a build-up of earwax, then ear infection symptoms and blocked ear symptoms will be much the same. There are two main types of ear infections:
- Otitis Media – an infection of the middle ear caused by excess mucus and usually accompanied by a cold or flu-like virus. Otitis media is not commonly associated with ear wax build-up
- Otitis Externa – an infection of the outer ear that can be caused by excess water getting into the ear or ear wax build up trapping water in the ear. The symptoms can therefore be very similar to some ear blockage symptoms
Although ear infection symptoms and blocked ear symptoms may have some crossover, the treatment for each will vary. You may need antibiotics if you have an ear infection, while blocked ears can be treated with microsuction. Microsuction can also help to treat outer ear infections, as a clear ear canal allows antibiotic drops to work more effectively.
Why Are My Ears Blocked?
Ear wax is completely natural and our ears need ear wax to function healthily. Blocked ear symptoms start when there is too much ear wax. Reasons for this include:
- Cotton buds – cotton buds can push wax further down the ear canal rather than remove it and should be avoided
- In Ear Earphones – regular use of in-ear earphones like earbuds, or other foreign bodies such as hearing aids, can stop wax naturally falling out and so it may start to build up
- Narrow ear canals – people with smaller ear canals aren’t able to secrete ear wax as efficiently
Regularly removing ear wax in a safe way reduces the risk of developing any blocked ear symptoms and helps to maintain healthy ears.
How to Clear Blocked Ears
As we’ve said above, using cotton buds is not an advisable way to clear blocked ears. In fact, any at-home method of wax removal can be risky and cause not just blocked ears but ear infections too.
Syringing has been a common way to remove ear wax build-up, but is now often considered to be a less effective approach for how to clear blocked ears, and can even cause infections due to the excess water.
Microsuction is the gold standard when it comes to how to clear blocked ears safely, quickly, and successfully. Microsuction requires zero preparation, can be done in under an hour, and can even be done when you have an ear infection. Microsuction is a simple procedure to relieve the symptoms of blocked ears, but can also be done regularly to stop ear wax build-up from happening at all.
Microsuction from Ear Care Clinic
Ear Care Clinic has a dedicated network of microsuction professionals and clinics across London, such as Ealing, West London, and East London. We offer microsuction services to help people with ear blockage symptoms, ear infection symptoms, or just routine ear care.