Significance of Ear Wax Impaction in School Children: A Case of Winneba West Circuit, Ghana

Sesi Collins Akotey, Edward Kodzo Adza, Adam Awini, Joana Beyebenwo Cobbinah, Kenneth Darko, Eric Worlanyo Ador, Lydia Polley Arckertson, Patience Dadzie-Bonney, Charles Adzoe, Belinda Asamoah, Anthony Atandigre Agomboka


Cerumen or earwax is a mixture of secretions that is sebum together with secretions from modified apocrine glands and sloughed epithelial cells present in the external auditory canals of humans. Earwax impaction is one of the most common reasons patients seek medical care for ear-related problems such as blockage and conductive hearing impairment. However, in Ghana there is virtually no literature on earwax impaction among school children. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of school children with wax impaction in Government assisted basic schools in the Winneba West circuit of the Effutu Municipal. This cross-sectional study included 4407 children between the ages of 5 to 16 years from 11 government assisted basic schools in the Winneba West circuit, of the Effutu municipal, Ghana. The instruments used were otoscopy and interview of randomly selected children on the use of cotton-tipped ear swabs for cleaning their ears. Out of the 4407 children, earwax impaction was found in 988 (22.4%). There was a marginal difference in the prevalence of earwax impaction in females compared to males; that is, of the 988 with earwax impaction 522 (53%) were females and 466 (47%) were males. However, the use of cotton-tipped swab could not be directly associated with earwax impaction. Earwax impaction and its attendant challenges is a problem amongst Ghanaian basic school children. The high prevalence of earwax impaction among basic school children in Winneba (Ghana) can lead to conductive hearing impairment which can affect the academic performance of the children negatively. Regular hearing screening involving processes such as otoscopy at the entry point and at regular intervals is being recommended for early identification and remediation.

Keywords: Ear wax (cerumen) impaction, Cotton-tipped swab

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