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Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

You most likely don’t give much thought to earwax accumulation unless you’re in the process of cleaning it out. Still, it’s crucial to have an understanding of its purpose and how it forms.

What triggers the accumulation of earwax?

Earwax, scientifically identified as cerumen, is a dense combination of debris, hair, skin particles, sweat, and ceruminous gland secretions. Earwax will appear as a waxy substance that will normally be yellow, orange, brown, or even grey.

While the production amount of earwax varies from individual to individual, adults typically produce less earwax than children. Furthermore, adult earwax is usually darker and denser compared to that of kids.

Earwax gets expelled or washed out after passing the outer ear canal and reaching the opening of the ear.

Why do we need earwax?

Here are a few essential functions that earwax serves:

  • Acting as a protective barricade against external irritants such as dirt, dust, and other foreign particles before they penetrate deeper into the ear.
  • Fending off potential infections that may develop within the ear canal.
  • Protecting and moisturizing the skin lining the ear canal, thereby preventing dryness and itchiness.

Blockages caused by earwax

Impacted earwax is a common issue, but it’s typically the only time you need to worry about it. Impacted earwax can be the result of narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals impeding the normal movement of earwax toward the ear’s periphery.

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

Individuals grappling with hearing loss who utilize earplugs or hearing aids are also susceptible to experiencing ear canal obstructions.

How too much earwax can affect hearing

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

Untreated earwax blockages might escalate into middle ear infections, perforated eardrums, or enduring hearing loss due to acoustic trauma.

Dealing with impacted earwax

If you suspect an earwax blockage, consulting us quickly is essential. Depending on the severity of the obstruction, you may be advised to utilize over-the-counter wax softening drops or a bulb syringe for gentle irrigation to alleviate the condition.

Give us a call right away if you need some assistance with an earwax obstruction.

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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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