Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

You probably don’t give much thought to earwax buildup unless you’re in the process of cleaning it out. Nonetheless, understanding what causes earwax, how it develops, and its purpose is crucial.

What initiates the buildup of earwax?

Earwax, technically called cerumen, is a dense blend of debris, hair, skin particles, sweat, and ceruminous gland secretions. Earwax will show up as a waxy substance that will normally be yellow, orange, brown, or even grey.

In most instances, children tend to generate more earwax than adults. Moreover, adult earwax tends to be darker and denser compared to that of children.

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

Why do we need earwax?

Earwax serves several essential functions, such as:

  • Helping counter ear infections.
  • Preventing itchiness and dryness by moisturizing and protecting the lining of the ear canal.
  • Acting as a protective barrier against external irritants including dirt, dust, and other foreign particles before they infiltrate deeper into the ear.

Earwax obstructions

Impacted earwax is a prevalent issue, but it’s usually the only time you need to worry about it. Impacted earwax can be the result of narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals hindering the natural movement of earwax toward the ear’s opening.

Poor ear hygiene methods, such as using cotton swabs or bobby pins, can inadvertently push wax deeper into the ear canal.

Earwax obstructions are frequently experienced by individuals who often use earplugs, earbuds, or hearing aids.

How too much earwax can impact hearing

Auditory health may be impeded and you may feel minor discomfort.
In addition, considerable accumulations of earwax can induce tinnitus, a feeling of ringing in the ears.

Untreated earwax blockages may intensify into middle ear infections, perforated eardrums, or lasting hearing loss as a result of acoustic trauma.

Dealing with impacted earwax

Should you suspect an earwax blockage, consulting us quickly is essential. Depending on the severity of the blockage, you might be advised to use over-the-counter wax softening drops or a bulb syringe for gentle irrigation to relieve the condition.

If you’re concerned about your earwax buildup, call us today to schedule an appointment.

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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.