Impacted Ear Wax: Everything You Need to Know

Ear examination prior to ear cleaning

Impacted ear wax or cerumen is a natural substance that the body uses to help protect the ears. Tiny glands in the ear canal secrete cerumen, which creates a sticky surface that collects unwanted particles, helping to keep your ears clean.

Generally, the body only produces small quantities of ear wax. However, there are times when it may overproduce ear wax or fail to clear it, which can lead to impacted ear wax in the ear canal. Read on to find out everything you need to know about impacted cerumen, including what it feels like in the ears, and how impacted ear wax should be removed.

Where does impacted ear wax come from?

Impacted cerumen occurs when ear wax builds up in the ear to the point at which the ear canal can no longer clear it. Nature designed ears to clean themselves, but when cerumen builds up too much, the tiny hairs that would usually transport it out of the ear no longer function. This can lead to blockages, causing a range of unwanted symptoms as a result of hard, impacted ear wax building up in the ears.

Impacted ear wax symptoms

If you’re struggling with cerumen impaction, there are usually some tell-tale signs. Common impacted ear wax symptoms can include:

  • A feeling of fullness in the ear canal – this comes from wax pushing up against the ear canal
  • Ear pain
  • Dizziness – this is because impacted ear wax can affect your ears’ balance centres
  • Discharge from the ear – this may vary in colour. The darker the discharge, the older the ear wax. Bright yellow and runny ear wax is new, whereas brown ear wax has likely been there for some time. If your ear wax contains green pus, you may have an infection. Black ear wax is a sign that the cerumen has been mixed with blood. If you notice any, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider immediately

What issues can hard, impacted ear wax cause?

The consequences of impacted ear wax can potentially be severe. Besides a general loss of hearing, impacted cerumen can also lead to infection, hearing loss, and irritation.

Hard, impacted ear wax – which is what cerumen impaction can turn into when it’s left for too long without being addressed – can also make it difficult for hearing specialists, physicians, and audiologists to peer into the ear canal and diagnose problems, which is why it’s important to address any problems you experience as soon as possible.

Can impacted ear wax cause jaw pain?

If impacted cerumen results in an infection, this may spread to the sinuses, with the pain potentially radiating to your head, teeth, and even your jaw. This is why impacted ear wax may result in jaw pain for some people. If you’re worried that your jaw pain may be being caused by excess ear wax, book an appointment at Ear Care Lab for a consultation today.

How to prevent impacted ear wax

You can take steps to prevent the build-up of impacted ear wax by avoiding stuffing cotton buds – or indeed any other instruments – in your ear. These can sometimes make the problem worse by pushing impacted cerumen further into the ear canal.

Another way to prevent impacted ear wax from causing problems is to stop using earplugs at night, though that might not always be an option for you.

Ear microsuction is designed to remove excess ear wax before it becomes impacted too far into the ear canal and causes problems. We recommend booking an appointment as soon as you start to notice any symptoms that may be associated with a build-up of ear wax – this is the best way to prevent cerumen impaction from causing any more serious problems. Read more of our tips for preventing ear wax build-up.

How to remove impacted ear wax

Microsuction is the best impacted ear wax removal technique – in fact, it’s the safest, most effective, and most comfortable ear wax removal option of all. Our ear health specialists can use microsuction to remove impacted cerumen from your ears. The procedure involves using a compact suction device that pulls unwanted wax from the ear. If you have impacted ear wax and over-the-counter options aren’t working, get in touch with Ear Care Lab today to schedule an appointment.

Read more about the benefits of ear microsuction vs ear syringing or irrigation.

Book a microsuction appointment to remove impacted ear wax today

Get relief from hard, impacted ear wax when you book an appointment for microsuction ear wax removal with Ear Care Lab. Our experienced clinicians belong to the Ear Care Clinic network and have been trained in delivering this gold standard ear wax removal procedure.

Read more about what to expect from ear microsuction, or book an appointment today.

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