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Clogged ear or ear infection?

MimMim Now known as "Bim"It means "Bisexual Mim"Registered User regular
edited January 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Don't worry, later on today I'm going to the emergency room.

However, I'm having the hardest time trying to figure out if I have a clogged ear or an ear infection. The night before last I was scratching my year because it was rather itchy when all of a sudden I couldn't hear out of it. I thought that maybe I had shifted some wax around and it clogged up my ear. I waited till the next morning to find out it was sill there.

Now, back in high school, for some odd reason my ear kept clogging with wax. Something about my body just making too much of it and me not knowing how to handle it properly. It felt uncomfortable lying on my ear drum and I was always going to the hospital for it because I kept mistaking it for an ear infection. Cut to 2007, same problem and I headed for the hydrogen peroxide and BAM I get an ear infection.

So I thought I would see if I had wax in there and I stuck a q-tip in there lightly to swab around some. Yup, definitely wax in there, lets clean it out! Only, nothing came the fuck out. D: Realizing, to my utter horror, that this was another ear infection, I have become frustrated with not being able to tell the difference.

H/A, how can I tell the difference between a clogged ear and an ear infection? I did just recently come back from England so I don't know if traveling affected my ear or not. Also, my left ear, every time I blink really hard, it feels like it's popping. What's up with that?

TL;DR 21 going on 22, second ear infection about a year and a half. Want to be able to tell the difference between a clogged ear and an ear infection so I don't continuously exacerbate the problem.

Mim on

Posts

  • AvicusAvicus Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    1. Don't put anything in your ear. There of course are a couple of exceptions but qtips and stuff are bad for your ears.

    2. If you feel as though your ear is clogged, go down to your local pharmacy. They will give you a little bottle of ear drops. 2 - 5 drops in the ear and stay on your side for a minute or two and the wax is all dissolved.

    3. Your ear is popping because it still hasn't gotten to the right pressure. When going up and down in height there are changes in the amount of pressure. Your ears have this inbuilt mechanism that fixes this but it causes your ears to get sore and "pop"

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  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    When I have an ear infection, my inner ear will actually be sore. That might be exclusive to me though, as I haven't heard if that's a common thing. Also I don't recall it ever really feeling clogged when it's infected.

    That said, an ear cleaning solvent is what you need. Like Avicus said, most pharmacies have them. Some even come with a bulb you can use to shoot water into your ear to clean it out. But don't just use hydrogen peroxide; it's not the same.

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  • eternalbleternalbl Registered User
    edited January 2010
    I had the same thing just lately, was told by the Dr to just put warm water in my ear once a day for a few weeks. Also the same in that nothing came out on a q-tip, I guess because the wax that had built up was fairly hard. I've heard olive oil can help dissolve the wax more quickly.

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  • EskimoDaveEskimoDave Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Avicus wrote: »
    2. If you feel as though your ear is clogged, go down to your local pharmacy. They will give you a little bottle of ear drops. 2 - 5 drops in the ear and stay on your side for a minute or two and the wax is all dissolved.

    whatever you do not get that stuff in your mouth. its awful.

  • MimMim Now known as "Bim" It means "Bisexual Mim"Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Well, I'm not going to the emergency room today. I'm going to just make an appointment with my GP, who I needed to get a referral from anyways.

    My ear doesn't hurt right now, it's just clogged. I didn't just do hydrogen peroxide, well I mean, I did a few drops in my ear, and then let it work it's magic and then use a bulb to shoot water in there.

    So, I'm now wondering if I think it's a clogged ear, and I put those special drops in there and it turns out it's an ear infection, will it make the infection worse? Because the water/hydrogen peroxide mix fucked me up last time. I've done the water/hydrogen peroxide mix just yesterday but didn't go as far into the cleaning as I did last time which I suspect is keeping me from crawling up in bed and crying.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    You have a clogged ear. Ear infections hurt but do not affect your hearing. What you need to do is have your earwax flushed out (your "ear irrigated").

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  • Count FunkulaCount Funkula Registered User
    edited January 2010
    This happens to me every couple of months or so. It is just wax build up. Hydrogen peroxide does not work very well and you should never ever stick a Q-tip in your ear. You will just pack the wax in tighter, making the problem much worse. Q-tips are for cleaning the outside parts of your ear only.

    The ear drops you want to use contain Carbomide Peroxide (not the same as Hydrogen Peroxide) and go under the brand names Debrox, Murine, Otix and even generic store brands like Walgreens. They will be called "earwax removal aid" drops. Lay on your side, put about 5-7 drops in your ear and wait 5 to 10 minutes. After that, gently flush your ear with warm water using a squeeze bulb. Flush until your ear "clears" and you can hear normally again. Sometimes, you may need to do another treatment later in the day, or possibly the next day. If it doesn't improve after several treatments, you may need to see your doctor. I don't think the drops and warm water would make anything worse, since they are both pretty gentle.

  • Hamster_styleHamster_style Registered User
    edited January 2010
    You've gotten pretty good advice here, and I'd like to second the debrox stuff. If you hear a bubbling kind of noise, that's how you know it's working.

    I agree with others that you don't have an ear infection, only wax impaction. DON'T USE A Q-TIP. Not only is this a great way to blow out your eardrum, which is the worst thing ever, but if the wax spans the whole canal then all you're doing is packing it down like a football player jumping up and down on a pile of leaves and making it harder to get out later.

    I'd like to point out that using warm water with a squeeze bulb is pretty important. The melting point of earwax is normally just a little bit above that of a human's body temperature (I may be wrong, but this is what I remember a dr telling me), but if you go much warmer than that it'll hurt.

    Furthermore, a good prevention for ear infections is Swim Ear. It's basically a bunch of isopropyl alcohol and some glycerine, which makes it a good water drying aid. I'd recommend, after doing anything that involves going in water (shower, swimming, and especially ocean / lake water) doing a flush with warm tap water from a bulb syringe, then using a little bit of swim ear to make sure you're drying everything out and not making your ear ripe for infections. As an added bonus, you'll be taking care of wax too.

    I do primarily watersports, and since beginning to do the above I haven't gotten any sort of ear infection or wax impaction ever since I started - about 5 ish years now.

  • RainbulimicRainbulimic Registered User
    edited January 2010
    You can also use warm olive oil if its a clogged ear.
    Just saying.
    Doctor recommended it to me since it was basically cheaper and more useful than drops, what with the cooking stuff with it as well.

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  • dwwatermelondwwatermelon Registered User
    edited January 2010
    Internal ear infections are painful but do not affect your hearing unless you rupture your ear drum.

    External ear infections, however, can cause swelling and that swelling can close off the ear canal. They are also painful as FUCK. You will know when you have one because you will want to kill yourself. I don't have much of a wax problem so I'll let others advice stand on that. I am extremely prone to external ear infections, so a few helpful tips:

    1. Don't push anything into your ear canal. It is extremely sensitive tissue and if you irritate it you are more at risk of infection.

    2. Keep your ears dry. If your ear canals don't drain properly the tissue in there becomes a mushy mess and is prone to infection. Take a piece of tissue paper and place it at the entrance to the ear canal to wick away moisture.

    3. A 50-50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water can flush stuff out and keep it dry.

    4. If you get an external ear infection, you need antibiotic ear drops. Don't let any dumbass doctors give you an antibiotic pill. That won't do shit. I love Ciproflaxin ear drops so much I want to marry them.

  • TejsTejs Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Internal ear infections are painful but do not affect your hearing unless you rupture your ear drum.

    External ear infections, however, can cause swelling and that swelling can close off the ear canal. They are also painful as FUCK. You will know when you have one because you will want to kill yourself. I don't have much of a wax problem so I'll let others advice stand on that. I am extremely prone to external ear infections, so a few helpful tips:

    1. Don't push anything into your ear canal. It is extremely sensitive tissue and if you irritate it you are more at risk of infection.

    2. Keep your ears dry. If your ear canals don't drain properly the tissue in there becomes a mushy mess and is prone to infection. Take a piece of tissue paper and place it at the entrance to the ear canal to wick away moisture.

    3. A 50-50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water can flush stuff out and keep it dry.

    4. If you get an external ear infection, you need antibiotic ear drops. Don't let any dumbass doctors give you an antibiotic pill. That won't do shit. I love Ciproflaxin ear drops so much I want to marry them.

    This. If you don't have any pain at all and things sound a bit muffled, it's impacted wax. My doctor also said that you could put a hot towel or something on your ear to help 'melt' the wax and turn it into something more mobile for when you wash it out with water.

    He also said (like an above poster), to take a piece of tissue paper and roll it into a spiral before sticking it into your ear. This takes the moisture from your ear canal away AND spirals it inside the tissue bringing it away from the edge.

  • KillgrimageKillgrimage Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Oh man clogged ears. Story of my fucking life.

    I've had these since I was a kid, that gland in there that makes wax is overactive. As an adult, I get these massive plugs of buildup in there and every 2-3 months what will happen is one ear will randomly lose 50% of it's hearing (or, alternatively, I will feel something rolling around in there and then I lose hearing).

    The thing is for me that Debrox stuff does NOT work. I tried it a few times, and it just sorta softened the wax in there (and I leave it in for a looong time), and then when I try to irrigate the wax just sticks to the walls more and if I hadn't lost hearing by the time I'd put the Debrox in, I damn well lose it afterwards.

    What I do instead:

    Verify there is a plug

    Have my SO plunge warm water in my ear while I hold my earlobe back to straighten the canal

    We use a syringe/plunger (no needle, obviously) and that exerts a lot of force. Also, he can "aim" better than I can by myself (holding my ear, bending over sink AND irrigating water into my ear = very dizzy upon standing up).

    Do you have any close friends/family who you can ask to help you with this?

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