In assisted living, a simple culprit for hearing issues and vertigo: Earwax

Janie York examines Elaine Martin's ear at the SilverRidge Assisted Living facility in Gretna, Nebraska.

Story highlights

  • In 30% of elderly and developmentally disabled people, wax collects to the point where it can block the ear canal
  • Up to two-thirds of people in nursing homes may have that condition

Of all the indignities that come with aging, excessive earwax may be the most insidious.

Don't laugh.
That greasy, often gross, buildup occurs more often in older ears than those of the young, experts say. And when it goes unrecognized, it can pose serious problems, especially for the 2.2 million people<