Alternative Names

Ear impaction; Cerumen impaction; Ear blockage; Ear wax

Definition of Wax blockage:

Wax blockage is an obstruction of the ear canal with wax (cerumen).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The ear canal is lined with hair follicles and glands that produce a waxy oil called cerumen.

Ear wax protects the ear by trapping dust, bacteria and other microorganisms, and other foreign particles to prevent them from entering and damaging the ear. Ear wax also helps protect the delicate skin of the ear canal from becoming irritated when water is in the canal. The wax usually makes its way to the opening of the ear, where it falls out or is removed by washing.

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. More commonly, wax may block the ear canal if you try to clean the ear and accidentally push wax deeper into the ear canal.

Wax blockage is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.