Albert Howard

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What do you do if you suddenly suffer bad ear pain and your ear feels blocked? What could be going wrong inside your ear to cause this?  You can’t see what’s going on inside your own ear, even with the video tools which some people buy to insert into their ear for a good look!

At the best ENT specialist clinics in Singapore, many patients with ear pain, blocked ear and hearing loss come to see us. If you have ear pain, it’s usually a good sign of an underlying ear infection and this needs treatment by an ENT specialist in Singapore promptly to prevent complications.


Outer ear infections (otitis externa) may be caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Risk factors include ear-digging (yes, with those cotton buds that should be banned!), wearing earphones or ear plugs, going swimming or just getting water into the ear accidentally when you take a shower. Having pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, is also a risk factor for skin inside the ear canal to become inflamed and infected. Such ear infections cause ear pain, ear discharge or a wet ear, sometimes with a funny smell, and itching. If left untreated, then the infection may spread to the face and the neck to infect the surrounding lymph glands. If your ear is suffering all this, then you need to see your top ENT specialist in Singapore quickly for your ear to be carefully and gently cleaned out with a special tiny sucker under the microscope. A course of either antibacterial or antifungal eardrops is then usually prescribed to clear the residual infection of the ear canal.


Sometimes, the eardrum itself becomes infected (otitis media), either on its own, or from an infection passed to the ear from the nose and sinuses, via the Eustachian pressure tube. This can be rather painful as the inflamed eardrum membrane contains a lot of sensitive nerve endings. Fluid may also build up behind the eardrum and in some cases, the pressure may be so great that the bulging eardrum ruptures to release the infected fluid into the outer ear canal. You may then be left with a perforation or a hole in your eardrum. If it doesn’t heal, then this may need surgery to repair.

Eardrum infections need a course of oral antibiotics to be prescribed, not just eardrops. Anti-inflammatories with nasal decongestants may also be administered as the nose itself may be clogged or blocked with infected mucus. Nasal allergies should be controlled properly by using regular saline rinses to clean the nose, followed by the application of a nasal steroid spray and/or antihistamine medication. Nasal steroid sprays may be used safely once a day regularly, with minor side effects of dryness of the nose and nosebleeds.

Patients with eardrum infections, sinusitis or a bad flu or cold, should NOT fly as their pressure tubes will have a lot of difficulty trying to open up to equalise the ear pressures during the flight. Abnormal ear pressures mean a higher risk of eardrum rupture with associated dizziness and/or hearing loss, especially during flight descent.


  1. Avoid digging your ear as this will only make things worse by pushing any impacted earwax or infected pus deeper into your ear. 
  2. Apply antibiotic eardrops for a week but if it doesn’t get better, it may be a fungal ear infection. Fungal ear infections can be very stubborn to treat so your ear needs a proper cleanout by an ENT specialist and antifungal eardrops prescribed.
  3. Try taking some decongestant medication such as Zyrtec-D or Telfast-D which can usually be bought over the counter. This may help to open up the Eustachian pressure tube to allow the release of pressure from behind the eardrum.
  4. Avoid flushing the ear with water if you have ear pain or a blocked ear. Going for ear irrigation at the GP clinic is definitely not a good idea as introducing water into your infected ear will worsen any infection.
  5. Finally, if you still have ear pain or the blocked ear sensation just doesn’t go away, you should not delay further. You should see your friendly ENT specialist in Singapore as soon as possible, to avoid more serious complications such as neck abscesses, facial swelling, hearing loss, dizziness, headaches and facial weakness/paralysis.