Ear blockages

Ear blockages can occur when foreign objects such as beans, beads or erasers are placed into the ear canal especially among children. In some cases, the ear canal can be blocked by earwax, scar tissue or even an insect.

What are the indications?

An adult or child with ear blockages can experience the following:

  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Brief hearing loss
  • Fullness of the ears

The indications of excess build-up of earwax can range from itchiness, full sensation in the ear and even hearing loss. Nevertheless, even substantial amounts of earwax often cause no symptoms at all.

The foreign objects might remain unnoticed until they trigger itching, pain, infection or foul, pus-filled drainage.

Management of ear blockages

Ear blockages

The indications of excess build-up of earwax can range from itchiness, full sensation in the ear and even hearing loss.

Before earwax, a foreign object or an insect is removed, the doctor might conduct a hearing test, especially if the individual complains of hearing loss.

In case the hearing capability of the individual does not return after the ear blockage is removed, the obstruction might have impaired the middle or inner ear. If the hearing worsens after removal of the blockage, the removal procedure might have caused the damage. Remember that lasting injury to the ear canal or eardrum, hearing loss as well as pain are relatively rare if the foreign object or earwax were removed in a safe and careful manner.

Earwax removal

When earwax is removed, the doctor utilizes an earwax curette. This method is safer, quicker and comfortable for individuals with ear blockages.

There are certain solvents that can soften the earwax before the removal. Remember that these should not be used long-term since they can trigger skin irritation or allergic reactions in the ear canal.

Foreign object removal

The presence of foreign objects in the ear canal must be removed by a doctor. The foreign object is carefully removed using a microscope and special tools. Among children, the removal of a foreign object responsible for ear blockages is usually safely done in the operating room. In the operating room, the child can be sedated or given anesthesia to keep him/her still to prevent further injury to the ear.

When removing foreign objects, the doctor often utilizes a small-sized, blunt hook or small vacuum device. Insects specifically cockroaches might also block the ear canal. In such cases, the doctor fills the ear canal with dense lidocaine or mineral oil. After several minutes, the insect dies which allows the doctor to remove it.

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