Home Health & Wellness Why Your Ears Still Feel Blocked After Microsuction

Why Your Ears Still Feel Blocked After Microsuction

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 5 minutes

You felt your ears are blocked so you did what most people would, used cotton buds. That did not help so you finally found out you can clean your ears professionally, you did your research and realised microsuction is the safest method for ear wax removal. You have now had your ears cleaned, how come they still feel blocked?

So what causes ear blockage?

There are several possible causes of ear blockage, which is the sensation of fullness or pressure in the ear that can affect hearing and balance. Some common causes of ear blockage include:

  • Earwax buildup. Earwax, or cerumen, is produced by glands in the ear canal and is normally pushed out of the ear naturally. However, sometimes it can accumulate and harden, causing a blockage in the ear canal.
  • Ear infections. Infections in the middle or inner ear, such as otitis media or labyrinthitis, can cause swelling and inflammation that can result in ear blockage.
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction. The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, and it helps regulate pressure in the ear. Dysfunction of the Eustachian tube can lead to ear blockage and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Sinus congestion. Sinus congestion, often due to allergies, colds, or sinus infections, can cause nasal congestion and swelling that can also affect the Eustachian tube and result in ear blockage.
  • Barotrauma. Rapid changes in air pressure, such as during air travel, scuba diving, or driving up a mountain, can cause barotrauma, which is pressure-related damage to the ear. This can result in ear blockage and discomfort.
  • Foreign objects. Inserting foreign objects into the ear canal, such as cotton swabs or other small objects, can push wax or debris further into the ear and cause ear blockage.
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). SSNHL is a condition characterised by a rapid loss of hearing, often occurring over the course of hours to days, and is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as ear fullness, tinnitus, and dizziness. The exact cause of SSNHL is often unknown, but it is believed to be related to various factors such as viral infections, vascular issues, autoimmune conditions, and inner ear disorders.
  • Other causes. Certain medical conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, tumours, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, can also cause ear blockage as a symptom.

This is not an exhaustive list. With these many possible causes, you can see that the aim of microsuction is to tackle ear wax only. So if you have had the procedure and your ears are still blocked you will need further investigation to find out the cause of the blockage. 

Where to get microsuction 

You can now see that if microsuction does not solve your ear blockage you will need to have further investigation. This is why we need to make sure the professional seeing us knows what to do if microsuction alone does not alleviate the symptoms of ear blockage. Although many practitioners offer microsuction these days, it will be best if you go to an audiologist, ear, nose and throat doctor, or specialist nurse. These health practitioners will most likely have the skill and facility to diagnose other possible causes of your ear blockage. In some clinics, all three professions work together as a multidisciplinary team. 

How to treat ear blockage

The cause of the ear blockage will determine the treatment. The table below shows a list of the most common causes of ear blockage and their treatment:  

Ear blockage causeTreatment option(s)
Ear wax buildup Microsuction, ear syringing, or manual ear wax removal
Ear infectionAcute otitis media (middle ear infection): Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat bacterial middle ear infections. Pain-relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also be recommended to alleviate pain and discomfort. In some cases, if the infection is severe or persistent, a healthcare professional may need to drain fluid from the middle ear using a procedure called a myringotomy or tympanocentesis.

Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear/outer ear infection): Ear drops containing antibiotics, corticosteroids, or antifungal medications may be prescribed to treat bacterial or fungal infections of the outer ear. In some cases, the ear canal may need to be cleaned to remove debris or infected material.

Chronic otitis media (persistent middle ear infection): Chronic or recurrent middle ear infections may require a more comprehensive treatment approach, which may include antibiotics, corticosteroids, or other medications, as well as addressing any underlying factors such as allergies or eustachian tube dysfunction.

Viral ear infections: Viral ear infections, such as those caused by respiratory viruses, typically do not respond to antibiotics, as antibiotics are not effective against viruses. In most cases, viral ear infections are self-limiting and resolve on their own without specific treatment. Symptomatic relief with pain medications and management of associated symptoms such as nasal congestion may be recommended.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL)If SSNHL is suspected or diagnosed in association with an ear infection, prompt medical attention is essential. Treatment may include corticosteroids, antiviral medications (if a viral infection is suspected), and other medications or interventions depending on the underlying cause.
Eustachian tube dysfunctionTreatment for Eustachian tube dysfunction depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Nasal decongestants. Nasal decongestant sprays or drops may be recommended to reduce nasal congestion and swelling, which can help improve Eustachian tube function. However, these medications should be used as directed and not for prolonged periods, as overuse can cause rebound congestion and other side effects.
  • Nasal corticosteroids. Nasal corticosteroid sprays may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, which can help improve Eustachian tube function. These medications are typically used for longer-term management of Eustachian tube dysfunction and may take several weeks to show improvement.
  • Autoinflation. Autoinflation, also known as the Valsalva manoeuvre or “popping” the ears, is a technique where you gently blow with your mouth closed while pinching your nostrils shut to equalise the pressure in the middle ear and open the Eustachian tube. This can help relieve symptoms of Eustachian tube dysfunction, but should be done carefully and not forcefully, as excessive pressure can potentially damage the middle ear.
  • Swallowing or yawning. Swallowing or yawning can also help to open the Eustachian tube and equalise pressure in the middle ear. Chewing gum, drinking water, or sucking on candy may also help stimulate swallowing and relieve symptoms.
  • Avoidance of irritants. Avoiding exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, allergens, and pollutants can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, which can in turn improve Eustachian tube function.
  • Treatment of underlying conditions. If Eustachian tube dysfunction is caused by an underlying condition such as allergies, sinusitis, or a respiratory infection, treating the underlying condition may help improve Eustachian tube function. This may involve medications such as antihistamines, antibiotics, or other treatments targeted at the specific condition.
  • Surgical intervention. In some cases, if Eustachian tube dysfunction is severe or persistent and does not respond to conservative treatments, surgical intervention may be considered. Procedures such as myringotomy (small incision in the eardrum) with or without insertion of tympanostomy tubes (ear tubes) may be recommended to help equalise middle ear pressure and improve Eustachian tube function.

What to do next?

The most important decision you will make when your ears are blocked is deciding who to see. Make sure you do your research so you are seen in the right kind of ear wax removal clinic and by the correct practitioner. If your ears are still feeling blocked after microsuction, visit your GP who can signpost you to your local ENT or audiology department for further investigation.

Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd