What Is An Ear Wax Blockage?

Ear wax is also known as cerumen. It’s a naturally occurring substance that is secreted by glands in the skin that exist along the ear canals. The wax and tiny hairs in this area are responsible for trapping dirt, dust and other foreign particles that may damage the ear drum and canal. In this way, the wax helps to clean, lubricate and protect the deep and delicate structures within the ear.

Small amounts of ear wax routinely move toward the opening of the ear where it is washed away naturally. However, some people secrete an excessive amount of wax that cannot be cleared effectively. In these cases, the wax may build up and create a blockage. This often occurs when people try to clean their ears with cotton swabs, which pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal instead of removing it.


  • Earache and pain
  • A full sensation in the ear
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Diminished hearing
  • Dizziness
  • Cough

Before visiting your doctor, there are a number of home remedies you can safely try to encourage your blocked ear wax to dislodge. First, you can soften the wax by inserting a few drops of baby oil or hydrogen peroxide in the ear canal. Wait a day or two, and then use a rubber-bulb syringe to flush the area with warm water. This process can be repeated a few times until it is successful.

You can also click here to learn more about earwax build-up treatment options. If your wax is deeply lodged and the symptoms don’t improve with at-home irrigation, you will need to have the problem addressed by a board-certified ear, nose and throat physician. The ear canal and eardrum are very easily damaged, so we don’t recommend attempting to dig out blocked ear wax on your own.

Your SFENTA™ physician can remove blocked wax in the office using a small, curved instrument or a suction. Alternatively, it can be flushed out with a water pick or syringe. If you experience recurrent blockages, your doctor may recommend the regular use of wax removal ear drops.

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