Learn how to unclog ears from congestion

What causes clogged ears or ear congestion?

The reason we feel tempted to clean our ears is because of a substance called cerumen, commonly called earwax. It’s normal for your body to produce earwax, and it actually helps protect and lubricate your ears. If you didn’t have earwax, your ears would probably be itchy and dry. Earwax  even has antibacterial properties, which means your ears are self-cleaning. Cerumen acts  like a filter for your ears, keeping out harmful things like dirt and dust, and trapping them so they don’t go deep inside. Occasionally, earwax can build up inside your ear canal, it can even clog the canal - if that’s the case you should clean out the wax to prevent your hearing from being impaired.

Treatment options for clogged ears

If you decide to clean out your ears at home, it is safe to use warm water to irrigate the ear, doing this at room temperature is best. Flush the ear gently, as a forceful flow of water can damage the ear. Don’t stick any objects like a Q-Tip into the ear, this can cause the wax to be pushed further into the ear. You can use ear drops to soften the wax if it has become dark and hardened.

Ear drops can be purchased over-the-counter, like the brand Debrox, or you can use some home remedies like baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin. Using an eyedropper, apply a few drops (5-10) of warm oil or glycerin in the ear canal. This should soften the ear wax and help it work its way out naturally or make it easier to flush out. 

A modern approach to earwax removal is to use a digital otoscope with a wax removal attachment. ScopeAround makes a number of devices that are safe to use because you can see inside your ear the entire time you are using the device. You can’t see what you are doing if you poke your ear with a Q-Tip. Digital otoscopes have integrated LED lights to illuminate the ear canal and help the tip of the otoscope avoid your eardrum. Ear wax removal is easy to do because a soft silicone-tipped spoon attaches to the end of the otoscope and that combined with the camera gives you the perfect tool to scrape out pieces of earwax. 

When to see a doctor for congested ears or clogged ears

If too much earwax builds up in your ear canal and starts to cause symptoms or it keeps your doctor from doing a proper ear exam, you might have something called cerumen impaction. This means earwax has completely filled your ear canal.

The symptoms of cerumen impaction are:

  • Pain or a feeling of fullness in your ear
  • Feeling like your ear is plugged
  • Partial loss of hearing, which worsens over time
  • Ringing in your ear, known as tinnitus
  • Itching, discharge, or a smell coming from your ear
  • Coughing

This kind of earwax buildup is rare, but it can happen. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, don’t assume earwax is the problem. Call your doctor. They can examine your ears and figure out the cause.

Shop ScopeAround Digital Otoscopes!

Earwax congestion isn’t that common of an occurrence, but if it does happen, usually it can be taken care of at home without visiting a doctor. The first step is to look inside your ear canal with a digital otoscope. ScopeAround was the first company to make an ear inspection camera for consumer use and they have the most experience and customer feedback manufacturing these devices. ScopeAround makes digital otoscopes that are stand-alone devices as well as ones that are compatible with iPhone (iOS) and Android mobile devices as well as PC (Windows) or Mac (OSX) computers.


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