Avatar universal

clogged-up ear (partial hearing loss)

About a week ago, I was at home at the computer (I believe I was listening to music at the time), and I noticed that the hearing in my left ear had been significantly diminished (but not completely gone). About a minute (perhaps even less than a minute) later, it returned completely to normal, and so I assumed that it was just ear wax or something, and everything was fine now. However, a few seconds to a minute later, it went back to being diminished again. I can't remember for certain if I felt anything physically when all of this happened, but there may have been something that I felt in my ear - which led me to believe it was probably just ear wax.

I have researched on-line for possible solutions to this kind of problem, and I have tried every possibility that I could - peroxide, warm olive oil, blowing as hard as I can with my nose and mouth shut, blowing as hard as I can with my nose and mouth and other (good) ear shut, nasal decongestant (which successfully clears up my nose, but doesn't have any effect on the ear), hot steam bath, Similasan Ear Relief drops that are supposed to clear up water in the ears, jumping up and down with my bad ear tilted toward the ground, jogging, and of course trying to dig out ear wax with the ear wax curette that I have. Unfortunately, nothing has worked, and my hearing has been about the same ever since a week ago when it went out (diminished) for the second time.

I have been able to remove a lot of ear wax with the curette, and sometimes it seems to make it a little better, but it never restores my hearing to normal. Sometimes I feel like I am right at the spot where it is clogged up (if indeed clogged ear wax is the problem), because the curette seems to be hitting a spot that's clogged with ear wax (judging from what it feels and sounds like), but then when I dig out a bunch of ear wax at that spot, my hearing is still the same or perhaps only slightly better. Perhaps I am actually pushing the ear wax further inside, which was mentioned as a possible negative effect of trying to remove the ear wax yourself. Also, I am wary of not poking too hard or too deep, as that was also a warning given at the sites I visited in my research.

Swallowing never seems to do anything, but it's interesting that when I have a strong belch, I can feel pressure inside that left (bad) ear, and it really feels like it's about to burst out and expel whatever is stuck (if it's the case that something is stuck), but it never does. Maybe whatever is stuck in there [ear wax, presumably] is just in so tight that nothing seems to be able to remove it. However, the odd circumstance that occurred when the problem first originated - which is the fact that it got better right after getting clogged up, and then got clogged up again - would seem to suggest that there may be another reason for this happening, other than plugged-up ear wax.

For various reasons, I'm reluctant to go see a doctor about this, but it's been a week now, and if things continue to not improve... then at some point, I will. I thought I would try asking in this forum and other similar forums first, however, to see if anyone has any suggestions as to what the problem is and how it can be alleviated. Any such assistance or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
I would urge you to go see an ENT (Ear Nose & Throat) specialist as soon as you can.  Hearing loss, even partial, is nothing to take lightly.  I hope for your sake it is just wax buildup or something like that.  I don't want to scare you, but I had a similar thing happen - my hearing would intermittently go out and then come back within 30 seconds to a couple of minutes - this occurred on and off for a few weeks and then one day my hearing went out completely, I got a clogged feeling and horrible ringing and my hearing has yet to return (it has been 4 weeks and 1 day now).  My left ear is profoundly deaf and I was diagnosed with idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

In any case, an ENT can take a look in your ears and if it is wax buildup, clean it out for you.  You may even have an ear infection or something like that and they can give you medicine to clear it up. I hope whatever it is, it gets better but please please see a specialist sooner rather than later!  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your response and advised warnings. I did some research on-line into SSNHL after reading your comment, and was alarmed that the symptoms described were indeed very similar to mine - as was what you described as well. I saw that the web-article said that the prognosis for recovery is almost none after two to four weeks, but that a partial or full recovery is likely if treatment starts within that time frame, so I immediately went to the nearby urgent care center the next morning when they opened at 7 a.m. Fortunately, the physician assistant there told me that I did indeed have a large amount of ear wax build-up, and they flushed it all out - after which my hearing has returned to normal.

I am glad, though, that I saw your comment and that it prompted me to take action sooner rather than later, as it is true what you said that these things are not to be taken lightly. I am so sorry to hear about your hearing loss. Hopefully, there will be some way to treat it in the future, as I do remember reading about certain treatments that they are working on.

Thank you again for responding.
Avatar universal
That's such great news! What a relief! I'm glad you got it checked out and that it was no big deal.  Take care!
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