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Cerumen Impaction Pocket Guideline

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13 Patient Education: Dos and Don'ts of Cerumen (Earwax) Do 1. Understand cerumen (earwax) is normal. Earwax not causing symptoms or blocking the ear canal should be left alone. 2. Understand symptoms of cerumen impaction (wax blocking the ear): decreased hearing, fullness, tinnitus, and distortion/changes to hearing aid function. 3. Seek medical evaluation if you have symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness or ear pain if you are not certain they are from cerumen. Otitis media (fluid behind the ear drum), otitis externa (ear canal infection) and sudden inner ear hearing loss can all masquerade as cerumen impaction. 4. Ask your provider about ways you can treat your cerumen impaction at home. You may have certain medical or ear conditions which may make some options unsafe. 5. Seek medical attention with ear pain, drainage, or bleeding. These are not symptoms of cerumen impaction, and need further evaluation. Don't 1. Over-clean your ears. Excessive cleaning may irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and may even increase the chances of cerumen impaction. 2. Put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Your mother was right! Cotton swabs, hair pins, car keys, toothpicks, etc… These can all injure your ear and may cause a laceration (cut) in the ear canal, perforation (hole) in the ear drum and/or dislocation of the hearing bones, leading to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing and other symptoms of ear injury. 3. Use ear candles. There is no evidence that they remove impacted cerumen, and candling can cause serious damage to the ear canal and drum. 4. Ignore your symptoms if home remedies are unsuccessful. Seek medical attention if attempts at home have not resolved the problem. 5. Irrigate or try cerumen-removing/softening drops if you've had previous ear surgery or a perforated ear drum unless specifically cleared to do so by your otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat surgeon). 6. Forget to clean your hearing aids as the manufacturer and your hearing health professional recommend.

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