Wax blockage is an obstruction of the ear canal with wax (cerumen).
Overview, Causes, & 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.
Pictures & ImagesWax blockage in the ear
The ear canal is lined with hair follicles and glands that produce a waxy oil called cerumen. Sometimes the glands produce more wax than can be easily excreted out the ear. This extra wax may harden within the ear canal and block the ear.
Wax blockage:Overview, Causes
Wax blockage:Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests
The ear consists of external, middle, and inner structures. The eardrum and the three tiny bones conduct sound from the eardrum to the cochlea.
Medical findings based on ear anatomy
The external structures of the ear may aid in diagnosing some conditions by the presence or absence of normal landmarks and abnormal features including: earlobe creases, preauricular pits, and preauricular tags.
Review Date : 10/10/2008
Reviewed By : Alan Lipkin, MD, Otolaryngologist, Private Practice, Denver, Colorado. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc