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Ear Wax Blockage & How to Clear it

Posted on October 1, 2014

Ear Wax Blockage

Ear wax (cerumen) production is a normal physiological process.

Ear wax accumulation, caused by the failure of the ears self-cleaning mechanism, is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical care for ear related problems.  Current studies suggest that one in ten children, one in twenty adults and more than one-third of the geriatric and developmentally delayed populations have excessive or impacted ear wax. To read more about these studies click here (source).

Individuals susceptible to ear wax accumulation are:

  • Hearing Aid and Ear Plug Users
  • The cognitively impaired (source)
  • Those with narrowed or anatomically varied ear canals (source)
  • Those with certain dermatological conditions (source)
Ear Wax in Narrow Canal

Narrow Ear Canal Blocked with Wax

Ear Wax in Average Canal

Average Ear Canal Blocked with Wax

If you are an individual susceptible to wax impaction, you can read more about the epidemiology and management here.

Methods for Ear Wax Removal

Measures to prevent ear wax from accumulating have limited research findings and are based on clinical observations and anecdotal references (source).

It has been suggested that those with an increased propensity for cerumen production may benefit from regular ear care to reduce the risk of developing an impaction (source)

Therapeutic options for ear care can include:

  • A professional performing regular cleaning of the ears by micro suction or curettage every 6 – 12 months. Professionals performing this technique include Ear Nose and Throat Specialists, Registered Nurses and Audiologists.
  • Self-care measures such as irrigating the ears or using topical preparations might prevent cerumen from accumulating in the ear canal and causing impaction.

The table below outlines the therapeutic options: Their advantages and disadvantages (source)

Advantages & Risks of Ear Wax Removal Methods

Ear Wax Removal Methods

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