Hair follicles and glands located in the ear canal play an important role in protecting the delicate internal structure of the ear. Hair follicles prevent foreign particles, allergens, micro organisms, water and other such elements from entering into the inner ear. The waxy oil produced by the glands in the ear is known as cerumen. It also protects the inner ear from dust, bacteria, and foreign particles. Thus hair and cerumen help avoid damage to the ear. Earwax is regularly removed during washing; or as it moves to the opening of the ear, it falls out naturally in the form of dry flakes.
Excessive accumulation of wax in the ear and hardening of the wax is the most common cause of ear blockage. Not only the rate of production of wax but also the type of wax may vary from person to person. Some people suffer from problems due to wet wax while some from dry wax. It depends upon genetic factors. Secretion of excessive earwax or less secretion of oil by the glands in the ear (aging is the natural cause) results in hardening of the wax inside the ear canal, eventually leading to blockage. Accumulated earwax is quite common in the elderly.
Excessive stress, anxiety, high fat diet are some other causes of ear blockage due to wax. If the wax gets pressed inside the ear, during the cleaning process, then the condition becomes worse. Small children are likely to push pieces of pencils or sticks inside the ear. When a foreign body gets stuck in the ear canal, the child complains about ear pain. Small toddlers may start rubbing or hitting the ear. They would cry due to excruciating pain. But parents should not try to remove the object which is deep inside the ear. They should immediately take the child to an ENT specialist for safe removal of the stick or pencil.
Various other ear problems can give rise to a sensation of block, for example, inflammation of the ear canal. One should consult an ENT specialist immediately. During common cold, inflammation of the Eustachian tube which connects the throat to the middle ear gives a blocked feeling. As symptoms of cold subside, ear blockage symptoms also go away. Tumors, ulcers or any kind of growth within the ear (as observed during measles) can result in blockage.
You must have experienced a feeling of blocked ears while traveling through a mountainous area by car or during the take off or landing of an aircraft. This is due to the change in the pressure within the car or the aircraft. You experience a blockage in the ears as there is a pressure difference across the middle and the outer ear. Sucking on a sweet or candy during the ascent or descent of an aircraft helps solve this problem.
A sense of fullness and stuffiness inside the ear is experienced by everyone when an ear is blocked due to wax or due to pressure changes. Inner ear blockage symptoms often include tinnitus or ringing in the ear. An infection in the ear may cause ear pain. Partial hearing loss is one of the most common symptoms of earwax blockage. You won't be able to hear clearly the voice of the other person during a conversation.
You might want to increase the volume of the television or radio when others won't. Some people feel that they have water in their ear. Some experience a crackling noise or a slight 'pop' while swallowing. Itching and discomfort in the ear, dryness in the ear, are some other symptoms of blocked ear passages. If the wax is not removed regularly, hearing problem may get worsened with each passing day.
Best Ways to Remove Earwax
Diluted hydrogen peroxide solution can be used to remove impacted earwax. But one should consult the doctor and learn the correct procedure before using hydrogen peroxide. Similarly, you can use earwax candles after learning about the risks and benefits of ear candling. Most over-the-counter ear drops work great for blockage. Auro, Debrox, Murine are examples of some of the commonly used ear drops. If you want to use an earwax removal kit, then you should use the one made by a well-known brand. Debrox, Mack's Wax Away, Murine Earwax Removal Kit are quite popular. Water sprays which help remove earwax smoothly are easily available in the market.
Pouring a few drops of warm baby oil in the blocked ear helps soften the wax and promotes easy removal. You can wrap a damp and clean washcloth over the tip of the little finger and wipe the outer part of the ear gently. There is no need to insert the finger or push the washcloth deep into the ear. Similarly, while using the cotton swab, you should not push it deep inside the ear. This can damage the delicate inner ear.
Earwax should be removed regularly and safely to prevent hearing loss. Utmost care should be taken while using earwax removal products. It is always better to get the wax removed by a doctor. You should therefore consult the doctor immediately if you notice ear blockage symptoms. The doctor can also prescribe proper medications for ear pain due to infections. Ear is a delicate and an important organ and hearing loss can lead to several problems in day-to-day activities. Blockage due to tumors needs prompt medical attention. So it is better to visit a doctor for earwax removal.