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Cerumen Impaction

(Earwax; Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage)

Definition

Cerumen is the soft yellow wax made by glands in your ear canal. It is more commonly known as earwax. Cerumen impaction happens when earwax becomes wedged in and blocks the ear canal.
The Ear Canal
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Causes

Cerumen impaction is usually caused by:

Risk Factors

Cerumen impaction is more common in older adults. It can cause hearing loss.
Factors that increase your risk of getting cerumen impactation include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An ear exam will be done to look for impacted cerumen.

Treatment

Treatment involves removal of the earwax from the ear canal. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Cerumen can be removed by:
Earwax moves out of your ear naturally. Earwax should not be removed by you. In fact, continuously trying to clean your ear of cerumen by using a cotton swab, for example, can damage your ear. By trying to remove earwax, you can:

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting cerumen impaction, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

American Academy of Audiology http://www.audiology.org

American Speech–Language–Hearing Association http://www.asha.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entcanada.org

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Cerumen impaction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed September 11, 2014.

Jabor MA, Amedee RG. Cerumen impaction. J La State Med Soc. 1997;149:358-362.

Mahoney DF. Cerumen impaction. Prevalence and detection in nursing homes. J Gerontol Nurs. 1993;19:23-30.

Olusanya BO. Hearing impairment in children with impacted cerumen. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2003;23:121-128.

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. Published February 20, 2010. Accessed September 11, 2014.

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