Feeling earitable
November 30, 2012 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Is it normal to feel cloggy for awhile after ear wax has been flushed out?

I was at the doctor for a physical earlier today. The doctor noticed some ear wax buildup and had my ears flushed out. (A disgusting but successful effort.) The nurse who did the flushing said the cloggy/watery feeling would go away "soon," so I didn't think anything of it. But I'm still feeling clogged and muffled, more than I was before the wax was removed.

Is it normal to feel this way. And if it is, how long can I expect before I feel clear again? And if it's not normal, what can I do now since the office is closed for the weekend?
posted by dayintoday to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
You have water in your ears! Tilt your head to one side and jump up and down!

Squeal with glee when you feel warm wetness flow from your now gross-free ears.
posted by bensherman at 3:46 PM on November 30, 2012

Back when I was growing up I had my ears flushed out sometimes and the cloggy feeling stayed for quite a while, at least until sundown. (Appointments were usually in the afternoon.)

I venture to say that it's normal. As to how long you should have it, I don't know because that might depend on the individual (or the ear). But judging by the way you described it as a "successful" event, they probably had to dislodge gobs and gobs of wax, and your ear will now be exposed to a lot of fresh air it wasn't exposed to before. I imagine your ear will need some time to adjust to this, so you'll probably feel that cloggyness for a while before it gets used to being waxless, slightly wet and nekkid.
posted by ditto75 at 3:50 PM on November 30, 2012

It's likely just water but it may be that some of the wax was just dislodged and is now sitting in a way that is blocking your ear drum. I have had this happen. If it is still feeling cloggy tomorrow I would guess it's not water. You have two options, go back to the doctor and have them take a look and syringe your ear again or go to the drug store and buy an ear syringe and flush it out yourself.
posted by sadtomato at 3:52 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

A less gleeful possibility: my one data point is that irrigation can irritate the ear canal, causing it to produce more wax and become more clogged.

On the other hand, I got to be Patient X at a summit meeting between the head of Dermatology and the head of Ear, Nose, & Throat at the University of Chicago Hospital. It was cool, like being on one of those teevee shows.

Mr. ENT had administered gentle expert ultrasonic cleaning for months (warning: it feels disconcertingly sexy), but was mystified to find my ear still not self-cleaning. He thought it couldn't be seborrheac dermatitis, because that can't be asymmetrical. Ms. Dermatology told him it can, and prescribed dandruff shampoo. Not on my ear, on my scalp. Which fixed everything.

It was especially cool because the young whippersnapper doctors in the teaching hospital mock dermatology as a superficial science. HAH.

Hopefully all this is irrelevant.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:56 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I often get this when I go swimming (which is why I must always, always wear earplugs).
posted by KokuRyu at 4:06 PM on November 30, 2012

How very odd--I also went to Urgent Care today to have my ear flushed out. My ear was completely blocked despite heat and a bit of warmed oil and peroxide. After cleaning, it now feels totally clear and normal. My PA gave me the syringe she'd used.

In your situation, I'd be a little concerned they did not get it all. I think sadtomato has it.

A little heat, in form of hot water bottle or heating pad may loosen the remaining wax, but getting it out is the tricky part. I would probably go back to the doc if it were not better tomorrow.
posted by Riverine at 5:04 PM on November 30, 2012

You really don't need a doctor to clean out your ears. If you don't like to flush it with water yourself, they sell ear drops over the counter that you can use to soften up the wax and get it out, although it can take a few applications.

Heating pad or hot water bottle are unlikely to reach the source of the problem, and I wouldn't be excited about using either one of them on your face.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:10 PM on November 30, 2012

If your ears are feeling funny, I'd recommend not only giving them another cleaning tomorrow, but drying them out with a hair dryer. My ears, at least, get very unhappy with even a bit of water from cleaning left in them-- they feel sloshy and later get painful. (And if yours do get painful, the heating pad can help with that.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:53 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had my ears cleaned dozens of times due to ear wax buildup, and I've never had your feeling. And my ears literally go from muffled noise to glorious clear sounds. However, I go to an ENT doctor who uses a pick and suction to get ear wax out of my ear- no water is allowed! Sounds like water in your case.
posted by jmd82 at 8:28 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a 30ml veterinary hypodermic syringe (without needle!) in the bottom drawer of my bathroom cabinet for exactly this thing. I use it in the shower whenever I need to, filled with plain warm shower water only, no soapy products. Easily controlled, very loud, and very effective.
posted by flabdablet at 7:45 AM on December 1, 2012

My high school vocational Health Occupations teacher was an RN and she once flushed my ears, and she followed the water flush with some hydrogen peroxide to dry the remaining water out. The earwax removal drops you'll get (in Murine's kit, at least) are carbamide peroxide, so probably a similar thing.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:55 AM on December 1, 2012

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