Wax blockage

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.

Signs and tests

During a physical examination, the health care provider will look into the ear for signs of wax blockage.


Most cases of ear wax blockage can be treated at home. The following can be used to soften the wax in the ear:

Expectations (prognosis)

Wax blockage of the ear usually responds well to removal attempts. However, it may happen again in the future. Hearing loss is usually temporary. Hearing usually returns completely after the blockage is removed.


Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/3/2010

Wax blockage in the ear
Ear anatomy
Medical findings based on ear anatomy

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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