What is Cerumen Impaction?
Cerumen impaction occurs when earwax (cerumen) accumulates in your ear or becomes too hard to wash away naturally.
Ear wax protects the ear by:
Trapping and preventing dust, bacteria, and other germs and small objects from entering and damaging the ear
Protecting the delicate skin of the ear canal from getting irritated when water is in the canal
In some people, the glands produce more wax than can be easily removed from the ear. This extra wax may harden in the ear canal and block the ear. When you try to clean the ear, you may instead push wax deeper and block the ear canal. Wax blockage is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Symptoms may include earache, fullness or plugged feeling in the ears, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
How is Cerumen Impaction Treated?
Cerumen impaction can be removed by an ENT using the following methods:
Suctioning the ear canal
Using a small device called a curette
Using a microscope to help
Commercially available suction devices for home use (such as Wax-Vac) are not effective for most people and are therefore not recommended. Ear candles, which are advertised as a natural method to remove ear wax, are not only ineffective but can cause injury to the ear. Injuries include burns to the external ear and ear canal and perforation of the eardrum.
The ear may become blocked with wax again in the future. Hearing loss is often temporary, and usually returns completely after the blockage is removed. Rarely, trying to remove ear wax may cause an infection in the ear canal or damage to the eardrum. See your health care provider if you have an ear wax blockage and you develop new symptoms, such as drainage from the ear, pain, fever, or hearing loss after you clean the wax.