Blocked tear ducts, also known by the medical term "nasolacrimal duct obstructions," are very common in children and infants. When a tear duct system hasn’t fully developed, it can lead to blockage, excessive tearing and infection. Many cases of blocked tear ducts clear by themselves during the first year of life.
What are symptoms of blocked tear ducts?
Symptoms of a blockage include an overflow of tears, as well as red, swollen eyelids, and possibly a yellowish-green discharge from a build-up of bacteria in the tears.
How are blocked tear ducts diagnosed and treated?
If the tear duct obstruction does not resolve by itself, one or more of the following treatments may resolve the issue:
- tear duct massage
- topical antibiotic eye drops
- tear duct probing
- balloon tear duct dilation
- tear duct intubation
Sometimes if a blockage is severe, a doctor might recommend tear duct obstruction surgery.
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A to Z: Impacted Cerumen
A to Z: Impacted Cerumen
May also be called: Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage; Earwax Blockage; Impacted Earwax; Cerumen Inspissatum
More to Know
Earwax is produced by glands in the ear canal, which leads from the outer ear to the eardrum. Earwax helps protect the ear by trapping dust and other foreign particles that could damage the ear. Normally, earwax moves toward the opening of the ear and falls out or is washed away, but some people's ears produce too much wax. The extra wax can build up and harden in the ear canal and become difficult to remove. Earwax also can become impacted when, during ear cleaning, the wax is accidentally pushed deeper into the ear canal.
Impacted cerumen can cause earaches, temporary hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), coughing, or a feeling that the ear is full or plugged. It also can increase the risk of an outer ear infection. Impacted cerumen should be removed by a doctor to help avoid damaging the ear. Treatment options include removing the earwax with instruments or by flushing the ear canal with special liquids.
Keep in Mind
Impacted cerumen may improve on its own, but treatment by a doctor is generally safe and effective. Hearing usually returns completely after the impacted earwax is removed. Trying to remove impacted cerumen at home with a cotton swab or by ear candling is not recommended.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
Date reviewed: September 05, 2017