Most people don’t give much thought to that yellow waxy substance that occasionally appears in their ears.
But while you may pay little attention to it, that is until we have a blockage or ear infection, earwax has a crucial role in keeping our ears clean and healthy. But sometimes our body can produce too much earwax, resulting in a build-up that can lead to problems. Here are some useful facts on earwax and what you can do if you have earwax build-up.
Your ear canal produces a waxy oil substance called cerumen, better known as earwax, to protect the ear from dirt, dust and foreign particles that could damage the ear. It also protects the skin in the ear canal from irritation from water. Excess earwax produced by your body will normally find its way out of your ear canal into the ear where it is then washed away.
Sometimes your body may make more earwax than required. However, this doesn’t automatically lead to a blockage. Earwax blockage most often happens when you try to remove the earwax yourself by using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or your finger, and unintentionally push the wax deeper into your ear. You are also more likely to have earwax build-up if you regularly use earphones or hearing aids which can inadvertently stop earwax from being able to come out of the ear. Other potential causes of earwax build-up and blockage include:
Earwax can vary in color from person to person, so if you have dark-colored earwax, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have a blockage. If you don’t remove earwax build-up you risk developing one of several potential ear diseases such as an ear infection or tinnitus. Common signs of earwax build-up include:
Dizziness, hearing loss, and earache can be caused by something else other than a blocked ear. If these symptoms persist or you are worried about your ears you should see your doctor.
Never use your fingers, cotton swabs, or any other object for earwax removal. This can cause serious damage to your ear and push the wax deeper down into your ear. If the earwax is only causing you minor issues, then ear drops or mineral oil, olive oil, or glycerin can be used to soften the earwax so it can fall out by itself.
There are several treatments for clogged ears that remove earwax:
Not all of these treatments are suitable for everyone. It’s a good idea to get medical advice about what treatments may work best for you.
If you have any concerns about your hearing health, schedule a consultation with a hearing care professional or your doctor for advice on the appropriate treatment.
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