Symptoms A-Z

Waxy Ear Discharge Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand waxy ear discharge symptoms, including 5 causes & common questions.

This symptom can also be referred to as: wax coming from the ear

An image depicting a person suffering from waxy ear discharge symptoms

Waxy Ear Discharge Symptom Checker

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Contents

  1. 5 Possible Waxy Ear Discharge Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

5 Possible Waxy Ear Discharge Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced waxy ear discharge. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Earwax blockage

Ear wax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum, which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside. Ear wax buildup has nothing to do with poor hygiene, and it is not possible to prevent a build-up by washing.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears

Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage: swollen ear, fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Swimmer's ear (otitis externa)

Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the canal which runs from the eardrum to the opening of the ear.

It is caused by anything that introduces bacteria, fungus, or a virus into the canal. Water that stays inside the ear after swimming is a common cause, as are cotton swabs used for cleaning or earpieces that create irritation.

Most susceptible are children, because they have narrower ear canals that do not drain well.

Early symptoms include redness, itching, and discomfort inside the ear canal, sometimes with drainage of clear fluid.

Even mild symptoms should be treated because they can quickly get worse. The infection can spread and intensify, becoming very painful with increased drainage, swelling, fever, and loss of hearing.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination of the ear canal. Lab tests may be done on a sample of the discharge from the ear.

Treatment includes having a medical provider clean the ear canal of debris and discharge, and a prescription for antibiotic and/or steroid eardrops.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Waxy Ear Discharge Symptom Checker

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Cholesteatoma (a non-cancerous growth in the ear)

Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst that is located in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull. It can be a birth defect though more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears, pain in one ear canal, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss in one ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic earwax blockage

Earwax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ringing in the ears, ear fullness/pressure

Symptoms that always occur with chronic earwax blockage: ear canal pain

Symptoms that never occur with chronic earwax blockage: swollen ear, fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: new headache, irritability, clear runny nose, vision changes, general numbness

Symptoms that always occur with traumatic brain injury: head injury

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Waxy Ear Discharge

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been experiencing dizziness?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you hear a ringing or whistling sound no one else hears?
  • Have you noticed a change in your hearing?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your waxy ear discharge

Waxy Ear Discharge Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced waxy ear discharge have also experienced:

  • 13% Ear Canal Pain
  • 9% Pain In One Ear Canal
  • 6% Ear Discharge

People who have experienced waxy ear discharge were most often matched with:

  • 44% Swimmer'S Ear (Otitis Externa)
  • 33% Cholesteatoma (A Non-Cancerous Growth In The Ear)
  • 22% Earwax Blockage

People who have experienced waxy ear discharge had symptoms persist for:

  • 34% Less than a day
  • 29% Less than a week
  • 21% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Waxy Ear Discharge Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your waxy ear discharge

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.