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Ear Wax Buildup

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Ear Wax Buildup Definition

Definition

Cerumen is the soft yellow wax secreted by glands in your ear canal, more commonly known as earwax. Cerumen impaction occurs when earwax becomes wedged in (impacted) and blocks the ear canal.

Cerumen or earwax has many useful purposes. One of the main uses is that it protects against infection. It helps fight bacterial ear infections and protects the inside of your ear.

Earwax moves out of your ear naturally. Earwax should not be removed by you. In fact, continuously trying to clean your ear of cerumen by using a cotton swab, for example, can damage your ear. By trying to remove earwax, you can:

  • Damage your eardrum (the membrane that vibrates and transmits sound to the middle ear)
  • Make yourself more prone to ear infections
  • Make yourself more prone to swimmer’s ear (an infection of the skin that lines the ear canal)
  • Injure the ear canal
  • May cause the cerumen to become more impacted and more difficult to remove

The Ear Canal

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© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

It is important to prevent cerumen impaction before it happens because it has been found to cause hearing loss .

This condition can be treated; contact your doctor if you think you may have cerumen impaction.

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