Characteristics of earwax

What is earwax?

Earwax can affect hearing and be responsible for many other symptoms

Earwax is produced in the part of the ear that goes from the the external part of the ear to the ear drum (ear canal).

What is earwax produced for?

Earwax is a waxy substance which is very useful to provide protection to the inner ear from outside aggressions, such as dust, water, microorganisms or other living creatures. Besides, it also provides lubrication and helps to clean it.

Earwax is necessary, however, excessive accumulations of earwax (wax earplugs) can produce hearing loss or other unpleasant symptoms such as buzzing, ringing, etc.

Symptoms of earwax

The main symptoms of earwax are:

Causes of earwax

The main cause of the formation of wax earplugs is the accumulation of too much earwax in the ear canal. This can respond to many reasons, such as, for example:

  • Genetic reasons: Some people posses more active ceruminous glands that other, so they are more likely to develop wax ear plugs.
  • External aggression response: The ear tends to produce more earwax to protect itself from an external aggression (too loud sounds, water contact, dust, etc)
  • Ear and respiratory diseases: Ear or respiratory diseases can trigger this overproduction.
  • Emotional reasons: Some personal emotive states can increase it, such as stress, nervousness, anxiety, etc.

Earwax has a defensive function, since it protects the ear by preventing the entry of foreign matter, from microorganisms to dust, excessive noise, etc.. However, when being very persistent, it increases in size and hardens into a plug that, besides allowing ear infections, makes hearing more difficult.

Diagnosis and treatment of earwax

Wax earplugs are required to be removed to recover the normal hearing and avoid a number of other possible diseases or unpleasant effects on the ear.

If you think you have got this anomaly, you should visit your doctor who can diagnose it and provide the proper treatment to follow.

How is earwax removed?

Treatment usually follows a process, called cerumenolysis, consisting in the application of a product intended to remove or to soften wax earplugs.

You should apply some drops of this agent for 4 or 5 days several times a day.

Sometimes, this product is not enough by itself and the removal process has to be finished by irrigating the ear canal with warm water by means of a syringe (Syringing method) or extracting the wax with an ear pick (Curette method).

Either process has to be done by a professional. You are not advised to do it by yourself using a cotton swab, because you are at the risk of perforating the eardrum or injuring the inner channel.

  • Do not remove earwax completely when it does not form earplugs, as the wax has the function of protecting your ear.

punto rojo More information about ear wax .

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

2 August, 2020

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