Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Ear Wax Blocking the Ear Underlying Cause

Cerumen is a term used to describe earwax, which is made by the cells that line the ear canal. Cerumen is a protective coating that prevents dust and bacteria from reaching the eardrum. Normally, cerumen flows from the inside of the ear canal, to the opening of the ear canal. Occasionally, cerumen builds-up and blocks the ear canal.

The most common cause of cerumen impaction is improper ear cleaning. Cotton swabs, fingers pens or bobby pins can push cerumen into the ear canal if they are inserted into the ear canal. This can cause cerumen impaction, irritation of the canal lining and infection of the ear canal. A cotton swab can safely remove flakes of cerumen from the entrance to the ear canal if it is not inserted into the canal.

Continue to Ear Wax Blocking the Ear Anatomy

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2007 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Ear Wax Blocking the Ear References
  1. Kelly KE, Mohs DC. The external auditory canal. Anatomy and physiology. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 1996 Oct;29(5):725-39. [8893213]
  2. Yueh B, Shapiro N, MacLean CH, Shekelle PG. Screening and management of adult hearing loss in primary care: scientific review. JAMA. 2003 Apr 16;289(15):1976-85. [1269780]
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