Diane A. Safer, PhD
Cerumen is the soft yellow wax secreted by glands in your ear canal. It is more commonly known as earwax. Cerumen impaction occurs when earwax becomes wedged in and blocks the ear canal.
Cerumen impaction is usually caused by:
Factors that increase your risk of getting cerumen impactation include:
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask 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:
If you are diagnosed with cerumen impaction, follow your doctor's
To help reduce your chances of getting cerumen impaction, take the following steps:
American Academy of Audiology
American Speech–Language–Hearing Association
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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