MedPlus Mart

All You Need To Know About Your Earwax

From time to time, we feel the need to use an earbud to get relief from the ticklish/uncomfortable sensation that we experience in our ear. And a majority of us have also used a key, pen, toothpick or such similar object(s) during the absence of an earbud, haven’t we? Before anything else, two grave things:

1. No matter how tempting it could be, refrain from using such objects. Why? Read on to know.

2. Guess what, an earbud can be just as risky! How? Keep reading.

So what causes this sensation? The earwax. It can be gross but is healthy. Having it does NOT indicate poor hygiene.

Earwax (officially termed as cerumen) is a crucial component of the human body’s natural defense mechanism. It is a thick, yellowy substance that is produced in the passage of the outer ear. A normal amount of earwax ensures the hygiene and safety of the ear canal.

Benefits of Earwax

1. A natural barrier that avoids the risk of dirt and bacteria entering the deeper areas of the ears.

2. A natural moisturizer for your ear canal, without which, your ears might feel itchy and flaky.

3. It also behaves like an insect repellent. Small insects might enter ears. The stickiness and the smell of earwax keep these insects at bay.

Signs & Symptoms of Normal

The body is self-set to produce the right amount of earwax. The following can be considered as signs of normal:

1. You don’t feel pain in the ears

2. Nor is there unexplained itchiness

3. No change in how your ears feel

4. You don’t begin to lose hearing ability

5. Overall, your ear feels normal

On the Other Side – Earwax Blockage

Though it is beneficial in regular amounts, some people may face an excess production of earwax which can lead to earwax blockage (technically known as Ceruminosis) which results in certain ill-effects/signs such as:

1. Hardened wax may feel like there is an object in the ear

2. Pricking or poking sensation

3. Partial hearing loss

4. Severe pain

5. Itchiness deep inside

6. Bleeding in extreme cases

7. Ringing sensation (tinnitus)

8. Vertigo

9. Discharge

Causes of Excess Earwax Production

1. Stress and fear is believed to accelerate earwax production

2. More hair in ear canals

3. Chronic ear infections

4. Abnormally-formed ear canals

5. Among the elderly especially those with learning disabilities

Things to Do

To keep the ear clean and free of excess wax, and avoid earwax blockage, below are few tips and tricks:

1. To begin with – do nothing. Yes, since ears come with a self-cleaning mechanism, it does not require special efforts to cleanse.

2. But on the outside, yes. Use a soft washcloth.

3. Bath – let warm water from your daily shower run through/into your ears which is sufficient enough to allow the melting/cleaning of wax. Not every day, but just often is enough.

4. Once in awhile, use just a few drops of baby oil in your ears which will smoothen the melting process.

5. After allowing the oil to seep in for few minutes, pull your ears up and back in order to straighten the ear canal, thus easing out the removal.

6. Next, tilt your head in the opposite direction in order to allow the liquids to pass out.

Things to Avoid

1. Earbuds are most commonly used as a solution to earwax. However, not everybody is aware that they come with a risk of pushing the wax back inside the ear.

2. Ear candling may cause burns or severe injuries thus causing damage to the inner sides of the ear.

3. Don’t stick sharp objects into your ears since accidents may cause partial or full damage (tear) to the eardrums.

4. Don’t clean too often. When you clean it too frequently, ears tend to produce more wax to compensate the removed wax. This may lead to over generation thus blockage.

Hope this helped.

Written by MedPlus