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Do Ear Canal Changes Occur with Aging?

Regarding changes specific to the ear canal, as people age, studies indicate that tympanometric and acoustic characteristics of the ear canal do not change significantly. The ear canal volume does not change with age, although the volume is larger in older males than females. Cerumen impaction is more frequent in older adults compared to younger adults, with studies suggesting 25% to 65% of patients admitted to skilled nursing facilities/nursing homes over the age of 65 have impactions that may be affecting hearing and cognition.

The increased frequency of cerumen impactions may be related to ear canal hair, osteophytic or osteoma bone growth, or other factors. Therefore, in general, although the auditory and vestibular systems change over time with aging, changes within the ear canal itself are limited and reasonably minimal.

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