Blocked Ear Causes

One of the most common causes of a blocked ear is wax build up blocking the ear canal. It can be quite uncomfortable and can impact on your quality of life.

Another cause of blocked ears can be from having a recent cold or upper respiratory tract infection. The ears will usually unblock after the congestion resolves, but when symptoms persist, consult a medical professional. For blockages related to excessive earwax, your local Earworx Registered Nurse is here to help.

What causes blocked ears?

Earwax build-up, also known as excessive or impacted earwax is present in 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults. One-third of the geriatric or developmentally delayed populations may also experience this condition.

Those who are more  likely to suffer from earwax impaction are those who:

  • Use hearing aids
  • Have naturally hairy, narrow or curvy ear canals
  • Try to remove earwax with objects like cotton buds or ear candles
  • Have a genetic disposition to excessive earwax
  • Use earphones or earplugs regularly 
  • Are suffering from stress
  • Work in dirty or dusty environments
man with hearing device

Swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear can contribute to a feeling of blocked ears. Water may become trapped behind ear wax after swimming, which can lead to ‘otitis externa’ or acute inflammation of the external ear canal. A trip to the GP will be required for diagnosis and management. The ear may be inflamed, sore, itchy as well as feeling blocked.

Sticking things in your ear

A common cause of blocked ears occurs when ear wax build up in the outer ear is pushed deeper into the ear through ineffective ear cleaning techniques. This often worsens symptoms and can lead to a complete blockage. The insertion of small objects into the ear canal, whether it’s cotton tips, ear candles, tweezers, or even fingers, can push wax down the canal and even onto the eardrum, causing a feeling of blockage. 

Hearing aids, earphones and ear plugs

If you wear hearing aids, frequently use earphones or earplugs, this may result in blocked ears. Anything inserted into the ear regularly may interrupt the self-cleaning process of the ear and prevent wax from being carried out naturally. 


A genetic predisposition to excessive earwax production can cause blocked ears. In the same way that narrow, bendy or hairy ear canals can cause the wax to build up, an overproduction of wax can cause blocked ear symptoms. 

Middle Ear Issues

A recent cold, sinus issues or hay fever can block the eustachian tube; a tube that sits between the back of your nose and the middle ear (behind the eardrum). As a result, the middle ear can become filled with fluid instead of air and even become infected. The ear may feel blocked, you may experience pain, pressure or even develop a temperature amongst other symptoms. In these instances, seek advice from a medical professional.

How to Treat Blocked Ears 

The structure of our ears are delicate and great care should be taken when considering the use of any home remedies to treat blocked ears. Many at home remedies can be ineffective and may also cause damage to your sensitive ear canal and ear drum. The first line treatment for excessive earwax recommended by clinical professionals is ear wax softening drops, but these are only suitable if your eardrums are not perforated.

A safe and effective way to remove excess wax is to visit an Earworx clinic and have a Registered Nurse remove wax using gentle micro-suction and curettage. 

We use the following procedure:

  • Firstly, we ask you a series of questions about your ear health, and any symptoms of ear blockage that you may have noticed.
  • A Registered nurse will use a speculum and loupes, which are binoculars fitted with a light, to inspect your ear canal and see if the blockage will need to be removed via micro-suction
  • The procedure will be thoroughly explained prior to proceeding. With your approval the nurse will use curettes, forceps and micro-suction to remove the blockage.

Why Choose Earworx?

When it comes to dealing with ear wax, we specialise in ear wax removal. Our highly trained Registered Nurses use the highly regarded micro suction technique and have helped countless Australians across the country find relief from the effects of impacted ear wax. With new clinics opening every day, make an appointment now and come in for a consultation and assessment of your ear wax. 

More Information

If you have questions or concerns about the causes of your blocked ears, feel free to contact the friendly Earworx team. We are more than happy to help answer your questions and to assist you in relieving your ears of uncomfortable, wax-related symptoms.

To book an appointment, please contact the closest clinic to you