Dirt, bacteria, and other small particles that could irritate your ear canal and cause hearing loss are shielded by ear wax. On the other side, too much ear wax can obstruct your ear canal and cause hearing loss. Knowing how to safely and effectively remove ear wax can help you safeguard your hearing and ear health.
Why do we have ear wax?
Ear wax is a natural substance that protects your ears by trapping microscopic debris like dust and bacteria that might otherwise injure them. According to the National Library of Medicine, ear wax also protects the sensitive skin inside your ear canal from water-related irritation (NLM).
As it moves from the inside of your ears to the outside of the ear canal, ear wax gathers dead skin cells, debris, and hair. According to Harvard Medical School, ear wax has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it an effective natural ear cleanser. It continues by stating that if your ears do not produce or hold enough ear wax, they will be itchy and unpleasant.
Treatment of a common ear condition
Ear wax removal, according to the National Library of Medicine, can help you prevent and avoid hearing loss. According to the National Library of Medicine, most cases of ear wax buildup can be treated at home using treatments that soften the wax so it can be easily removed or washed out. It goes on to state that you may need to seek medical help in some circumstances to avoid injuring your ears or causing an infection.
According to the National Library of Medicine, hearing loss caused by ear wax buildup is usually temporary and disappears after the blockage is removed. Hearing loss that persists after wax removal should be checked and treated by a physician.
The side effects of excessive ear wax
Excessive ear wax can cause ear discomfort and hearing problems, according to the National Library of Medicine. According to the National Library of Medicine, ear wax buildup is associated with ear pain, a perception of blocked ears, and tinnitus (inner ear noises). It’s also possible that you have a partial hearing loss that gets worse with time.
The development of ear wax
Ear wax is also known as cerumen. It is a mixture of secretions from sebaceous glands and sweat glands in the outer ear canal’s walls, according to Harvard Medical School.
Secretions flow through the inner ear canal and into the outer ear canal when you chew or talk with your jaw, where they dry out and flake. This allows older ear wax deposits to flow out or be removed more easily, according to Harvard Medical School.
Where wax comes from
According to Harvard Medical School, ear wax is a natural ear cleanser produced by glands in the ear canal to protect your ears from harmful dirt and other waste. No one knows why some people have more ear wax problems than others, according to the article.
Older adults with coarse, wiry hairs in their ears have more ear wax buildup problems than others, according to the University of Texas at Austin. Because some hearing aids are designed in such a way that wax cannot easily flow out of the ear canal, hearing aid users have more ear wax than non-users.
Ear wax removal tips
Cotton swabs are frequently used to remove ear wax buildup. Many medical experts advise against using this treatment, according to UC San Diego, because it can push wax deeper into the ear canal. It goes on to state that using wax-softening ear drops, which can be obtained at practically any pharmacy, is the easiest way to clean your ears.
To soften ear wax, the National Library of Medicine suggests using baby oil or mineral oil. With a small piece of cloth or tissue wrapped around your finger, you may simply remove the wax from the outer ear canal once you can see it.
The National Library of Medicine recommends consulting a doctor if you’re having problems removing ear wax. A doctor can employ other irrigation procedures, as well as a curette or suction equipment, to remove ear wax.
Tips for hearing-aid wearers
Hearing aid users should have their ear canals inspected for additional wax every three to six months, according to the National Library of Medicine. Ear wax is responsible for 60 percent to 70% of hearing aid degradation, according to Harvard Medical School. If you wear a hearing aid, have your doctor check your ears for ear wax buildup at least once every six months.