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clogged ear

(ear wax or cerumen)

CERUMEN IMPACTION

Excessive ear wax, or cerumen impaction, is one of the most common reasons for a visit to an ENT doctor.

Cerumen is healthy in normal amounts and serves as a self-cleaning agent with protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties. At times, patients with no earwax may complain of dry, itchy ears.

Ideally, the ear should self-clean, and the wax and dead skin cells should migrate towards the ear opening. However, this isn’t always the case and when the wax builds up it can cause symptoms of fullness in the ears, hearing loss, noises in the ear, itching.

Earwax is not formed in the deeper part of the ear canal adjacent to the ear drum, rather it is produced in the outer one-third of the ear canal. Therefore, when a patient has earwax very deep against the eardrum, it is often secondary to manipulation of the ear canal with Q-tips or other devices in attempts to remove the wax. Unfortunately these attempts often simply push the wax in deeper. One should never insert an object into the ear canal.

Some patients come into the office at regular intervals to have their wax professionally removed. This is the safest way to remove the earwax as it is done under direct visualization to ensure complete removal and prevent damage to the eardrum or other important structures.

Over the counter “wax removal” drops such as mineral old, baby oil, or peroxide based drops such as Debrox may aid in softening the wax prior to your cleaning.

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