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Blocked Ears? Here Are The Most Common Ways To Remove Earwax

by | Apr 15, 2022 | Patient Resources

Earwax is a necessity to our ear health.

The natural substance that our bodies produce to trap foreign debris from entering our ears protects against unwanted bacteria and fungi from growing, preventing ear infections.

However, at times, our bodies will produce an excess of earwax as a response to external factors, such as overcleaning the ears and too much intervention in this natural process.

Temporary hearing loss, a feeling of fullness in your ears, dizziness, headaches, or even balance issues can all be due to earwax buildup.

Now with the internet at our fingertips, we have seen many different ways to remove earwax; not all of them are good.

At Upstate Hearing Aid Center, we follow a methodical process of nationally respected best practices that have been established over the past 25 years, bringing the highest level of audiological care to the Foothills and the surrounding area.

For this reason, we want to take this opportunity to address the most common methods of earwax removal and advise on the pros and cons of each so that you can safely return to healthy hearing.

Using A Cotton Swab

This is by far the most common method, but that doesn’t make it safe. Most of us got our ears cleaned as kids by our parents via this way. While Mom and Dad had great intentions, this is a dangerous way to remove earwax.

We highly advise against using cotton swabs, as they will only cause more harm than good. These swabs tend to push wax deeper into your ear rather than removing it – causing what is called impacted earwax.

The wax you see on the end of the swab is nothing compared to the wax that you packed deep into your ear canal. So even if you have a mild blockage, cotton swabs almost always worsen the problem.


  • None


  • Could cause impacted earwax
  • Could puncture the eardrum
  • Ineffective at removing wax

Ear Candling

There are many videos on YouTube and online promoting a method known as ear candling. It’s considered an ancient technique of a more holistic nature – and for that reason, many people tend to trust in the simplicity of this method.

The theory is that the beeswax cone-shaped candle is lit, and the flame uses a vacuum technique to draw wax from the ear canal.

This is not an acceptable way to remove earwax, and we recommend no one ever use this method. The chances of burning yourself or your hair are very high. This should be treated as a novelty and not a viable medical solution like many other online trends.

There is also no evidence that this method works since the waxy residue that is left behind once that candle has burned out is often said to originate from the beeswax candle itself.


  • None


  • Hazardous – can cause burns
  • Not proven to be effective
  • May make the problem worse
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Over-The-Counter Ear Drops

This option should only be used for mild cases. The issue with this and many at-home efforts is that you don’t know how severe your blockage is. Determining your root cause is the best way to know which method to use and that can only be done by partnering with an audiologist.

However, the low price of ear drops can be attractive and may work for some, but seeking advice from an audiologist can more accurately confirm your suspicions.


  • Easy access
  • Low cost
  • Can be successful with mild cases


  • Hard to know which drops to get
  • May be ineffective for most cases

Visiting An Audiologist

If you’re experiencing signs of blocked ears, then it’s likely that you’ve passed the opportunity to apply at-home approaches.

At this point, you’ll require the attention of one of our specialists who can accurately identify your issue.

Sometimes a blockage is caused by something different entirely and can be a growth or fungi impeding your hearing. We can diagnose this on the spot and ensure that whatever gets prescribed will help the problem.

For wax buildup, we have the proper tools to remove it. The most common is injecting a tiny amount of water through the blockage to flush it out from the back. This is a quick and painless way to remove most blockages.

For more severe cases, we can use what’s called a curette. This tool is specifically made to reach in and pull out the blockage.

Almost all blockage cases get cured with one visit immediately. It’s always a pleasure seeing the look of relief on a patient’s face when they finally get to hear again.


  • Accurate diagnosis
  • Quick solution
  • Possess all the proper tools for the job
  • Can identify any underlying problems
  • You get to work with a friendly, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff


  • It cannot be done from home

First Step To Unclogging Your Blocked Ears

It’s wise to have a working relationship with your audiologist even if you only suspect a minor issue. This will ensure that if your hearing changes, you have someone who knows your history and can adapt based on your personal experiences.

You can directly schedule an earwax removal appointment with our experts by following this link.

If you have any questions about removing your earwax or any other hearing issues, please call us anytime. We are always here to help our community any way we can.

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Virginia Wright, AuD.

Virginia (Ginny) Wright has practiced as an audiologist for almost 40 years, primarily in the Upstate, but also in settings as varied as Philadelphia, PA and Key West, FL. An active participant in community and professional associations, she is a Past President of the South Carolina Academy of Audiology as well as a former member of the South Carolina Board of Licensing in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Dr. Wright received her B.S. in Speech Pathology from Mississippi University for Women, her M.A. in Audiology from The University of Tennessee, and her clinical doctorate (AuD) in Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences. Her commitment to her patients is evident in her enthusiasm to help them on their journey to better hearing. Dr. Wright loves movies, documentaries, dining out, reading, and spending time with friends. She lives in Greer with her two cats, Lana and Helen.

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