(Earwax; Earwax impaction; Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage)
How to Say It: suh-ROO-men im-PAK-shon
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Cerumen impaction is a buildup of earwax that blocks the ear canal. Earwax normally cleans and protects the ear canal. When too much builds up, it can affect hearing and cause other problems.
This problem may be caused by:
Earwax impaction is more common in males, older adults, and children.
Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms of earwax impaction may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will do an ear exam to diagnose the condition.
The goal of treatment is to remove earwax from the ear canal. This can be done with:
The risk may be lowered by:
American Academy of Audiology
American Speech–Language–Hearing Association
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Cerumen impaction. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/cerumen-impaction-earwax-buildup-and-blockage. Accessed February 18, 2021.
Cerumen impaction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cerumen-impaction. Accessed February 18, 2021.
Michaudet C, Malaty J. Cerumen impaction: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2018;98(8):525-529.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 2/18/2021