(Earwax; Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage)
|The Ear Canal|
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- An inability of the ear to naturally clear itself of cerumen due to hardening
- Putting objects into your ears that push the cerumen deeper into the ear canal
- Trying to remove cerumen with a cotton-tipped swab
- A twisted, narrow, or complicated ear canal
- Ears that overproduce or make thick cerumen
- Dense hair growth in the ear canal
- Hearing aid use
- Intellectual disability
Using one of several instruments, including:
- Curette—This is a surgical instrument shaped like a scoop.
- Suction—When the cerumen is loosened, the earwax will be vacuumed.
- Flushing—The impacted cerumen may be rinsed using flushing equipment.
- Ceruminolytic agents—A ceruminolytic agent may be prescribed. This is a liquid-like solution used in the ear to soften the earwax and ease removal.
- Damage your eardrum—the membrane that vibrates and transmits sound to the middle ear
- Make yourself more prone to otitis externa—an infection or inflammation of the skin that lines the ear canal
- Injure the ear canal
- Cause the cerumen to become more impacted and more difficult to remove
- Do not clean your ears with anything more than a soapy washcloth on the outer rim of your ear.
- Do not use cotton-tipped swabs to clean anywhere inside your ears.
- Use medications as advised by your doctor to help prevent the build up of earwax.
- If you are concerned about earwax, see your doctor. Do not attempt to remove the earwax by yourself.
- Schedule regular visits to remove earwax build up as advised by your doctor.
American Academy of Audiology http://www.audiology.org
American Speech–Language–Hearing Association http://www.asha.org
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entcanada.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Cerumen impaction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed August 7, 2015.
Jabor MA, Amedee RG. Cerumen impaction. J La State Med Soc. 1997;149(10):358-362.
Mahoney DF. Cerumen impaction. Prevalence and detection in nursing homes. J Gerontol Nurs. 1993;19(4):23-30.
Olusanya BO. Hearing impairment in children with impacted cerumen. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2003;23(2):121-128.
Pray WS, Pray JJ. Earwax: Should it be removed? US Pharmacist. 2005;30(5).
2/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Ear candles: risk of serious injuries. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm201108.htm. Updated September 5, 2013. Accessed September 11, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2015 -
- Update Date: 09/11/2014 -