Earwax blockage-Earwax blockage - Diagnosis & treatment - Mayo Clinic (2024)


Your health care provider can see if you have earwax blockage by looking in your ear. Your provider uses a special tool that lights and magnifies your inner ear (otoscope) to look in your ear.


Your health care provider can remove excess wax by using a small, curved tool called a curet or by using suction techniques. Your provider can also flush out the wax using a syringe filled with warm water and saline or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Medicated ear drops may also be recommended to help soften the wax, such as carbamide peroxide (Debrox Earwax Removal Kit, Murine Ear Wax Removal System). Because these drops can irritate the delicate skin of the eardrum and ear canal, use them only as directed.

Earwax blockage-Earwax blockage - Diagnosis & treatment - Mayo Clinic (1)

Earwax removal by a health care provider

When too much wax builds up in the ear, it can be removed by a health care provider using a small, curved tool called a curet.

If earwax buildup continues, you may need to visit your health care provider once or twice a year for regular cleaning. Your health care provider may also recommend that you use earwax-softening agents such as saline, mineral oil or olive oil. This helps loosen the wax so that it can leave the ear more easily.

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Self care

You can get many ear cleaning home remedies over the counter. But most of these treatments — such as irrigation or ear vacuum kits — aren't well studied. This means they may not work and may be dangerous.

The safest way to clean your ears if you have excess wax is to see your health care provider. If you're prone to earwax blockage, your health care provider can show you safe ways to reduce wax buildup at home, such as using ear drops or other earwax-softening agents. People shouldn't use ear drops if they have an ear infection unless it's recommended by a health care provider.

Don't try to dig it out

Never attempt to dig out excessive or hardened earwax with available items, such as a paper clip, a cotton swab or a hairpin. You may push the wax farther into your ear and cause serious damage to the lining of your ear canal or eardrum.

Alternative medicine

Some people try to remove earwax themselves using a technique called ear candling (ear coning). Ear candling involves lighting one end of a hollow, cone-shaped candle and placing the other unlit end into the ear. The idea is that the heat from the flame will create a vacuum seal that draws wax up and out of the ear.

However, ear candling isn't a recommended treatment for earwax blockage. Research has found that ear candling doesn't work. It may also burn or damage the ear.

Essential oils — such as tea tree oil or garlic oil — are also not a proven treatment for earwax blockage. There is no data that shows they are safe for earwax removal, or that they work.

Talk to your health care provider before trying any alternative remedies for removing earwax.

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your health care provider. In some rare cases, however, you may be referred to a provider with special training in ear disorders (ear, nose and throat specialist).

As you prepare for your appointment, it's a good idea to write a list of questions. Your health care provider may have questions for you as well, such as:

  • How long have you been having symptoms, such as earache or hearing loss?
  • Have you had any drainage from your ears?
  • Have you had earache, trouble hearing or drainage in the past?
  • Do your symptoms happen all the time or only sometimes?
Earwax blockage-Earwax blockage - Diagnosis & treatment - Mayo Clinic (2024)


How does Mayo Clinic get rid of ear wax? ›

Your health care provider can remove excess wax by using a small, curved tool called a curet or by using suction techniques. Your provider can also flush out the wax using a syringe filled with warm water and saline or diluted hydrogen peroxide.

How do you diagnose earwax blockage? ›

There's no way to know if you have too much earwax without having someone, usually your health care provider, look in your ears. Having signs and symptoms, such as earache or hearing loss, doesn't always mean you have wax buildup. You may have another health condition that needs attention.

What is the fastest way to get rid of ear wax blockage? ›

You can remove earwax at home using 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.
  1. Tilt your head to the side and drip 5 to 10 drops of hydrogen peroxide into your ear.
  2. Keep your head tilted to the side for 5 minutes to allow the peroxide to penetrate the wax.
  3. Do this once a day for 3 to 14 days.

What dissolves ear wax immediately? ›

If the aim is to completely break down the wax, waxsol, peroxide 3% or a sodium bicarbonate solution (which can be prepared by your local pharmacist) is effective.

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to unclog ears? ›

Insert the drops: Carefully insert a few drops into the ear canal using a dropper or syringe. Wait: Stay still and wait about five minutes, giving the drops time to work. Drain: Tilt your head to allow the solution to drain out.

What are the symptoms of a blocked Eustachian tube? ›

Blocked eustachian tubes can cause several symptoms. For example, your ears may hurt or feel full. You may have ringing or popping noises in your ears. Or you may have hearing problems or feel a little dizzy.

How serious is ear wax blockage? ›

See a nurse at your GP surgery if:

you have symptoms of ear wax build-up which have not cleared after 5 days. your ear is badly blocked and you cannot hear anything (you could get an infection if it has not cleared)

How to open a blocked ear at home? ›

If your ears are plugged, try swallowing, yawning or chewing sugar-free gum to open your eustachian tubes. If this doesn't work, take a deep breath and try to blow out of your nose gently while pinching your nostrils closed and keeping your mouth shut. If you hear a popping noise, you know you have succeeded.

Can a doctor always see impacted ear wax? ›

Your provider should easily see the wax when looking at your ear through a device called an otoscope. Your provider might diagnose you with impacted earwax even if you don't have any symptoms.

Why did a big chunk of ear wax come out of my ear? ›

Chewing, talking and regular bathing is often enough to move earwax up and out of the ear. Usually, earwax gets rinsed away in the shower without you knowing it's happening. But it's possible – and totally normal – for earwax to come out in balls, clumps or lumps. The bigger problem is when earwax stays in your ears.

How do you get rid of earwax in 30 seconds? ›

Soak a cotton ball with the hydrogen peroxide. Tilt your head and drip the peroxide into your ear. You may hear it fizz as it tries to dissolve the earwax. After about 30 seconds, drain your ear onto a washcloth.

Will an audiologist remove ear wax? ›

Earwax removal is a big part of any audiologist's job. This process can be handled in a variety of different ways, and the type of method your audiologist will use will usually depend on the type of earwax issue you're encountering.

What draws earwax out? ›

Earwax removal tips

Instead, soak a cotton ball and drip a few drops of plain water, a simple saline solution, or hydrogen peroxide into the ear with your head tilted so the opening of the ear is pointing up. Keep it in that position for a minute to allow gravity to pull the fluid down through the wax.

What pushes wax out of ear? ›

Once earwax naturally moves toward the opening of the ear canal, it typically falls out or washes away. Washing your hair is usually enough to remove the wax on your ear's surface. During a shower, a small amount of warm water enters the ear canal and loosens any wax accumulated there.

How do you force ear wax out? ›

If the ear wax is sticky or hard, you may need warm oil or ear drops to soften it. After softening the ear wax, warm water to body temperature. Cold water may make you feel dizzy or cause vertigo. Keeping your head upright, gently pull the outside of the affected ear forward.

How does professional ear wax removal work? ›

This process uses a fine tube connected to a suction machine and does not require water to remove the wax. The procedure is safe, comfortable and painless. We view your ear canal with the aid of a microscope which allows us to see exactly what we are doing at all times.

Why don t doctors remove ear wax anymore? ›

There are several reasons this service is often no longer offered in primary care, some of which are based on misunderstandings. First, manual water-filled syringes for flushing out earwax can cause high pressure of water and might damage the patient's ears – not something a GP wants to be responsible for doing.

Who is the best person to remove ear wax? ›

Earwax removal is the most common otolaryngologic (ear and throat) procedure performed by primary care physicians (PCPs) in the United States. Your physician knows how to soften and safely remove earwax using special instruments such as a wax spoon, suction device or ear forceps — a long thin tool used to grab earwax.

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