What Are the Symptoms of Impacted Ear Wax?


Cerumen is the name that doctors use for ear wax. Glandular secretions in the ear prevent dirt and insects from damaging the ear by trapping any foreign material. When it mixes with the cells of the outer ear canal, it creates ear wax. Individuals produce varying amounts of ear wax. Sometimes there's a large amount produced, or improper cleaning technique pushes it back into the ear. When this happens, the individual has the symptoms of impacted ear wax. Solving the problem difficult once you know that it’s the problem.


Many of the symptoms of ear wax impaction are the same as other types of diseases of the ear. The difference is that often you or the doctor, with the use of a special light for the ear, can see the impacted wax. When confronted with the list of symptoms, it's always best to first check with the doctor to make certain that its impacted ear wax and not something more serious.

Ear Pain

If you find that you or your child has a pain in the ear, it might be an indication of several other conditions that range from an ear infection, a dental condition, or even certain diseases of the throat or upper digestive tract. Most of the time, this particular symptom comes from an ear infection. Occasionally, impacted ear wax is hard and causes pain in the ear.

Hearing Loss

Just like an earplug, ear wax build-up also causes those who have it to lose some hearing. Since it blocks the opening to the ear, often people with impacted ear wax only hear part of the conversation or hear it in muffled tones. If there's enough ear wax lodged in the canal, it blocks all sounds from reaching the eardrum and the individual with impacted ear wax has complete hearing loss. Normally there's action taken on the problem long before this occurs.


The tube in the middle ear controls your balance. If you have a problem with impacted ear wax, it often also creates a problem with your balance. This is because it creates a pressure in the outer canal.


Impacted ear wax also has a symptom of tinnitis, noises forming in the head with no outside cause. Since the sounds from the outside are often blocked, the brain fills in the blanks with it's own brand of sounds. Once you remove the ear wax build-up, normally the noises go away.

Ear Sensations

People with impacted ear wax note that they feel there's something in their ear. Sometimes, when the feeling of fullness inside the ear canal accompanies other symptoms, it’s easy to diagnose impacted ear wax.


Impacted ear wax puts a little tickle in your throat, similar to a drip of mucous down the throat. This occurs because it touches the wall of the ear canal and stimulates the same nerves that also provide sensations in the area of the throat. Normally, when people feel their throat tickle, they have the urge to cough. The cough caused by impacted ear wax is dry and unproductive.

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