Causes of Impacted Cerumen and Treatment Options


What is impacted cerumen? Cerumen or earwax is a yellow substance secreted by tiny glands in the ear that lines the inner part of your ear canal. The main function of earwax is to protect the ear canal from infection, water, injury, or foreign objects.

The ear naturally cleans the wax off itself normally, but when there is too much wax buildup, it can affect your hearing and cause other problems. This wax buildup is commonly known as impacted cerumen.

Many people use cotton swabs to remove wax from their ears, which does more harm than good in the long term. If you notice a substantial amount of wax in your ear, the best option is to get professional cerumen removal from Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center in Laredo, TX. This article highlights what is impacted cerumen, its causes, symptoms, and the treatment options you can pursue.


Causes of Impacted Cerumen

Generally, the body produces small quantities of cerumen. However, there are times when the ear might overproduce earwax to a point when the ear canal can no longer clear it, leading to impacted cerumen. Some of the common causes of impacted cerumen include:

  • Putting objects like cotton swabs which push earwax deeper into the ear canal
  • The ear is not naturally cleaning itself; thus, the earwax dries and hardens
  • The ear is producing too much earwax

Impacted cerumen can also be caused by other health conditions, such as:

  • Skin diseases like eczema
  • Bony blockage
  • The narrowed ear canal may be from birth, injury, or inflammation
  • Infectious diseases like swimmer’s ear
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus


Symptoms of Impacted Cerumen

In most cases, ear wax buildup has no symptoms at all, but at times, a person with impacted cerumen might experience various symptoms such as:

Difficulties with hearing which worsen with time

  • Ringing in the ear
  • Feeling pain, itching, or fullness in the ear
  • Ear discharge or odor
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing

Note that other ear disorders can cause these symptoms too. For this, consult a healthcare provider to examine your ears.


Treatment Options for Impacted Cerumen

Everyone produces ear wax, but some people make more than others. Cerumen impaction is common in the US, considering approximately 10% of children, 5% of healthy adults, and 57% of seniors suffer from wax buildup. Fortunately, there are two safe ways audiologists at Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center in Laredo use to extract wax safely.

Irrigation Removal Method

As the name suggests, this method involves water in the ear wax removal process. First, the audiologist adds a special medical solution to soften and loosen the wax buildup. The solution is usually carbamide oxide, which releases oxygen to remove the wax from the ear canal after loosening it. The audiologist then sends water to the ear canal to flush out and clean the remaining wax.

Curette Removal Method

This method involves using a curette, a special device designed like a spoon. First, the curette removal method involves using an otoscope to look inside the ear canal to determine the severity of wax buildup. The audiologist then uses the curette to gently scrape off the wax without causing any damage to the skin. This procedure is not painless and is highly appropriate when the wax is too thick to be removed with water.


How to Prevent Impacted Cerumen

The best way to prevent impacted cerumen is by properly caring for your ear. You can care for your ears and prevent impacted earwax by:

  • Avoiding using cotton swabs like Q-tips and other objects in the inner ear as they might push the wax deeper into the ear canal
  • Plan to see your health care provider for regular ear cleaning


Hearing Aids & Audiology Services in Laredo, TX

If you are struggling with impacted cerumen in Laredo, TX, feel free to seek help from professional experts at Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center. Contact us for inquiries.


Image Credit: Roman Zaiets on Shutterstock

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