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 you have a blockage or ear infection, earwax has a crucial role in keeping your ears clean and healthy. But sometimes our body can produce too much earwax, resulting in an earwax build-up which can lead to problems.
Here are some useful facts on earwax and what you can do if you have earwax build-up.
Cerumen, better known as earwax, is produced by your ear canal to protect the ear and keep it clean. This waxy oil substance catches and traps any dust, dirt or foreign particles that could otherwise damage the ear. Earwax also protects the skin that lines the ear canal so it doesn’t become irritated by water that comes into the ear as you swim or wash. The earwax will eventually work its way up and out of your ear and then either fallout or be washed away when you bathe.
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 buds, hairpins, or your finger, and unintentionally push the wax deeper into your ear. You are also more likely to have earwax build-up if you have eczema in your ear, narrow or hairy ear canals or regularly use earphones or hearing aids which can inadvertently stop earwax from being able to come out of the ear.
The colour of earwax varies from person to person, while someone may have earwax that’s a light orange colour, another person may have earwax that’s dark brown – so don’t worry if you notice that your earwax is a different colour to someone else. While it’s important to be careful when cleaning or putting anything in your ears, leaving earwax build-up to go untreated could lead to 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. There are several treatments for clogged ears that remove earwax, for example:
Not all of these treatments will be suitable for everyone. It’s a good idea to get medical advice about what treatments may work best for you.
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