Cerumen impaction

Last reviewed: 20 Apr 2022
Last updated: 10 Oct 2019

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • visualization of cerumen
  • hearing loss
  • fullness in the ear
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • otorrhea
  • otalgia
  • tinnitus
  • cough
  • vertigo
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • age >50 or <5 years
  • male sex
  • stenotic ear canal
  • Down syndrome
  • cotton-tipped applicator use
  • hearing aid use
  • living in a nursing home
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

Investigations to consider

  • audiogram
More investigations to consider

Treatment algorithm

ACUTE

all patients

Contributors

Authors

Stephen Wetmore, MD, MBA, FACS
Stephen Wetmore

Professor

Department of Otolaryngology

West Virginia University School of Medicine

Morgantown

WV

Disclosures

SW declares that he has no competing interests.

Peer reviewers

Rahul K. Shah, MD, FAAP

Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Pediatrics

Division of Otolaryngology

Children's National Medical Center

Assistant Professor

Otolaryngology and Pediatrics

George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Washington

DC

Disclosures

RKS declares that he has no competing interests.

Seth R. Schwartz, MD, MPH

Director of Research

The Listen For Life Center At Virginia Mason

Otology/Otolaryngology

Department of Otolaryngology

Virginia Mason Medical Center

Seattle

WA

Disclosures

SRS is an author of a reference cited in this topic.

Robin Youngs, MD, FRCS

Consultant Otologist

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

Gloucester

UK

Disclosures

RY declares that he has no competing interests.

  • Cerumen impaction images
  • Differentials

    • External otitis
    • Keratosis obturans
    • Polyp of ear canal
    More Differentials
  • Guidelines

    • Clinical practice guideline (update): earwax (cerumen impaction)
    More Guidelines
  • Patient leaflets

    Ear wax

    More Patient leaflets
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