Symptoms of wax impaction

These can include deafness, tinnitus,  earache, fullness in the ear and vertigo. Some people have jaw or facial pain.

Wax retention will occur whenever there is an obstruction and in some people this can be caused by anatomical abnormalities (eg tortuous canal, exostoses, (bony outgrowths in the ear canal), surgically created mastoid cavity) hairs (particularly male), and hearing aid moulds.

In children, it is usually a narrow canal, and in both age groups, the use of cotton buds for cleaning may cause impaction.

Cotton Buds are neither necessary nor appropriate as they push wax in further and may rupture the eardrum.

Cotton buds  interrupt the normal self-cleansing process of the outer ear. Irritation of the skin by cotton buds may predispose to Otitis Externa, (canal infection ) which can lead to shrinking of the skin and wax glands. This in turn makes the ear feel dry and itchy, perpetuating the desire to 'clean the ear"!

The repeated insertion of a hearing aid mould may also cause wax accumulation / impaction of the upper part of the canal. This may cause feedback, and nearly 1/3 of all hearing aid malfunctions is due to wax.