ZocdocAnswersHow can one clear out a stuffed ear?

Question

How can one clear out a stuffed ear?

What's the best, safest way to clear out a blocked up ear? I've always had pretty waxy ears, and as it's gotten cold they're getting clogged. Some of my friends are into 'ear candling'. Is that a safe way to do it?

Answer

Ear candling is a concept that has been around for some time, and is increasing in popularity again, to the point that even the Food and Drug Administration has weighed in on the topic. Their advice is to avoid candling, as it can be potentially dangerous, and there are safer alternatives available. Excess wax can be due to normal variations in ear canal anatomy, aging, and excess wax production. If your ear is pain free and your hearing is fine, there are numerous over the counter products that you can use. For those who have problems with too much wax, use of mineral oil intermittently to soften the wax often helps the normal process of removing cerumen (the medical term for ear wax). The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recommends against removing ear wax unless it is causing problems. As your cerumen seems to be bothering you and affecting your hearing, options for removal include lavage in your doctor's office, removal with a small tool that goes into the ear, including possible use of suction, or placement of drops that help to remove the wax. Any of these could be effective, but a good place to start is with an over the counter product. If that doesn't work, your primary care doctor could help you with further options. Finally, avoid candling. There are many other, safer, options available. See a doctor quickly if you experience pain, dizziness, or pus coming from the ear.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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