Ear, Nose & Throat

Ear wax Buildup: Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

Our ears play an important role in our lives by enabling us to hear. There are certain protective mechanisms that our body performs to protect the ears which play a pivotal role in our life. Production of Ear wax is one such protective mechanism.

Ear wax is also known as cerumen. It is produced by the sebaceous glands in the ear. It has certain important functions in the ear. They are:

  • Ear wax prevents the entry of dust into the ear
  • It prevents the entry of various pathogenic microbes or microorganisms like bacteria into the ear
  • It lubricates the ear and helps to function properly

However, when Ear wax builds up in the ear and causes blockage in the ear, it leads to certain problems as well. So, let us discuss the causes of Ear wax buildup, the symptoms it produces and the remedies that we can follow to get rid of Ear wax buildup.

Ear wax buildup and blockage Causes:

Ear wax Buildup
Ear wax Buildup
Image source: finehearingcare.com

There are several causes of the build-up of Ear wax in the ear. Some of them are:

Perforation of the Eardrum:

Our ear is divided into 3 parts, they are the external ear, middle ear and the inner ear. Ear wax is produced by the glands in the external ear, which is also called as the external auditory meatus or canal.

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The external ear is separated from the middle ear by Eardrum, which is also known as the tympanic membrane. When there is perforation of the eardrum, the cerumen or ear wax is pushed inside towards the middle ear, which leads to Ear wax buildup and blockage in the ear.

Otitis media:

Otitis media is the infection and inflammation of the middle ear. It can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. When there is an infection of the middle ear, there is excess production of the pus which adds to the ear wax which is already present in the ear leading to Ear wax buildup.

Usage of certain things in the ear:

Whenever you use anything like earphones or hearing aids for a prolonged period, they prevent the outflow of wax and lead to building up of wax in the ear. This Ear wax buildup can also be caused by excess usage of certain things like cotton buds or earbuds, Q-tips for cleaning the ear, etc.

Ear candling:

Many people believe that Ear candling helps to remove ear wax. Many companies advertise in such a way too. But the fact is that ear candling is not good for the ears. It can lead to burn in the ear, damage of skin inside the ear and can lead to Ear wax buildup. So, please avoid ear candling.

Ear wax buildup symptoms:

When there is a build-up of ear wax, it can lead to several symptoms which can make you uncomfortable. They are:


Otalgia is the other name of ear pain. When something is pressing on the structures in your ear, it makes you suffer from ear pain.

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Fullness in the ear:

As the wax is blocking the ear and it fills up your ear, you feel full in your ear, which can make you feel very uncomfortable.


Tinnitus is a term which is used to describe abnormal ringing sounds in the ear. When there is Ear wax buildup, it can make you hear ringing noises or sounds.


You can also have itching due to the ear wax which irritates the skin inside your ear.


It is the term used to describe the sensation in which you feel like the room is revolving around you or you feel that you are about to fall. Our ear plays a vital role in maintaining our sense of balance. But, here as the ear wax is blocking the ear, we feel that we are losing our balance and we starting developing vertigo.


As there is Ear wax buildup, it becomes a focus of infections which start breeding in this ear wax.


As the nerves inside the ear are also irritated, we can start coughing.

Ear wax buildup Remedies:

There are several ways in which you can get rid of this excess ear wax. They are:

Over the counter ear drops:

There are several over the counter ear drops that you can get from the pharmacies to get rid of excess ear wax. They contain ingredients like glycerine, baby oil, mineral oils, etc.

Ear drops prescribed by doctors:

When you consult a doctor regarding Ear wax buildup, he might prescribe you some ear drops which you can use to soften the ear wax. One of the most common ear drops prescribed by doctors is Dewax ear drops t soften the ear wax.

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Ear wash or Ear Irrigation:

You can go for Ear wash if your ear wax doesn’t come out with normal over the counter ear drops and if your symptoms are troubling you a lot. The doctor might ask you to use ear drops like Dewax for few days to soften the ear wax.

Then he might clear the ear wax build-up in your ear by ear wash or ear irrigation. In this method, the doctor uses a fast stream of water with a little force into your ear canal. This helps in expulsion of the ear wax.

After the procedure, you might feel that your ear is full or blocked for a few days until the water in the ear clears up. It is normal and no need to worry about it.

Removal of the wax manually:

There are some instances when the ear irrigation or ear wash is contraindicated. Some of them are like when you have an active infection in the ear when you have any perforation or hole in your eardrum when you have certain conditions like cleft palate, etc. In such circumstances, the wax is removed manually and ear wash is not used.

I hope you have understood all the causes, symptoms and remedies for Ear wax buildup and blockage which troubles us a lot. We will meet again with another informative article.

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