Cerumen Impaction

(Earwax; Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage)


Cerumen is the soft yellow wax made by glands in your ear canal. It is more commonly known as earwax. Cerumen impaction is a buildup of earwax that becomes wedged in, blocking the ear canal.
The Ear Canal
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Cerumen impaction is usually caused by:

Risk Factors

Cerumen impaction is more common in older adults. It can cause hearing loss.
Other factors that may increase your chance of cerumen impaction include:


Symptoms may include:


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 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:


To help reduce your chance of cerumen impaction:


American Academy of Audiology

American Speech–Language–Hearing Association


Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

Health Canada


Cerumen impaction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed August 7, 2015.

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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 Ear candles: risk of serious injuries. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Updated September 5, 2013. Accessed September 11, 2014.

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