Earwax impaction

Earwax impaction: A Trojan horse in the ear?

Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment of earwax impaction.

Earwax impaction is a common problem that affects many people with a peak of incidence among children and elderly. It can produce a wide range of symptoms that can be confused with other pathologies.

What is earwax impaction?

This occurs when earwax builds up in the ear canal and blocks the ear. This can happen for an increased production due to an external ear canal irritation or for a reduced elimination, including the use of hearing aids or earplugs, and the use of cotton swabs to clean the ears that push the earwax inwards.

Earwax impaction


The symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may experience itching, while others may experience hearing impairment or a sense of fullness in the ear canal. Other problems that might occur include discharge, odour, cough, or ear pain.

Causes of earwax impaction.

The exact cause of earwax impaction is not known. However, it is believed that the condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including the use of hearing aids or earplugs, and the use of cotton swabs to clean the ears. Exposure to environmental irritants can also contribute to earwax impaction.

Treatment of earwax impaction.

The type of treatment will depend on the type and severity of blockage and characteristics of the plug. In mild cases, the use of ear drops, or irrigation may be sufficient to remove the earwax. In more severe cases, microsuction or manual removal may be necessary. Doctors can sometimes combine the two to improve the chances of success and decrease patient discomfort. It is important to note that people should avoid using cotton swabs to clean their ears, as this can lead to further irritation and inflammation in addition to promoting the accumulation of earwax.


There are several steps that people prone to recurrent clogging can take to prevent earwax impaction. These include avoiding the use of cotton swabs to clean the ears and even a cerumenolytic can be used on a regular basis such as Otiblock.

Earwax impaction

Hearing aid users should have their hearing checked regularly (recommended every 6 months) and keep their hearing aids clean and dry.

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