What Causes Earwax Buildup?

Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

Chances are, earwax and its accumulation haven’t been subjects of extensive contemplation for you, except perhaps during ear hygiene sessions. Still, it’s crucial to have an understanding of its purpose and how it develops.

So why does earwax accumulate?

Earwax, also scientifically called cerumen, is made up of a combination of sweat, skin particles, hair, debris, and ceruminous gland secretions. Earwax will appear as a waxy substance that will typically be yellow, orange, brown, or even grey.

While the production amount of earwax differs from person to person, adults typically generate less earwax than kids. Furthermore, adult earwax is usually darker and harder compared to that of children.

Earwax passes the outer ear canal naturally, ultimately reaching the ear opening, where it either self-expels or gets washed away during bathing.

Why is earwax crucial?

Earwax serves several essential functions, such as:

  • Helping counter ear infections.
  • Safeguarding and moisturizing the skin lining the ear canal, thus preventing dryness and itchiness.
  • Before things such as dust, dirt, or other external debris get further up into the ear canal, earwax acts as a barrier.

Earwax blockages

Usually, there’s no imperative need to clean out earwax from your ears unless it becomes impacted, a common problem associated with earwax. Impacted earwax can stem from narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals hindering the normal movement of earwax toward the ear’s periphery.

Poor ear hygiene practices, like using cotton swabs or bobby pins, can inadvertently jam wax deeper into the ear canal.

People wrestling with hearing loss who make use of earplugs or hearing aids are also susceptible to experiencing ear canal obstructions.

How is hearing impacted by too much earwax?

The occurrence of earwax blockages may yield mild discomfort and dampen auditory health.
In addition, substantial buildup of earwax can trigger tinnitus, a sensation of ringing in the ears.

Untreated earwax obstructions might intensify into middle ear infections, perforated eardrums, or enduring hearing impairment due to acoustic trauma.

How do you tackle impacted wax?

It’s essential that you contact us as soon as possible if you think your ears may be blocked by earwax. Depending on the extent of the blockage, you may be advised to make use of over-the-counter wax softening drops or a bulb syringe for delicate irrigation to relieve the condition.

Call us right away if you need some help with an earwax blockage.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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