Q:

What causes earwax build-up?

A:

Quick Answer

Earwax builds up for various reasons, including narrow ear canals, hair growth, osetomata, skin conditions, hard wax, age or repeat ear infections, according to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. People who have a history of earwax build-up are more likely to develop the condition.

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Full Answer

Earwax build-up causes blockages in ear canals when not treated, the NHS explains. For people with osetomata, a condition in which bony growths develop in the outer parts of the ear canal, earwax build-up happens when the wax does not exit the canal. The ear canal's shape plays a role in the distribution of earwax.

Symptoms of blocked earwax include an earache, the ear feeling full, a ringing noise, a difference in hearing in one or both ears, dizziness and coughing, the Mayo Clinic explains.

People are more likely to have earwax blockages when they use ear plugs or hearing aids, or put objects such as cotton swabs into their ears, states the Cleveland Clinic. Older people are also susceptible to earwax build-up as the wax becomes dry with age.

To treat earwax blockages, Cleveland Clinic suggests cleaning the outside of the ear with a clean cloth. Some wax-dissolving solutions remove wax build-up, including cerumenolytic solutions. It is not a good idea to remove wax manually without the assistance of a health care professional.

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