Ear wax is one of those things that many people consider disgusting to say the least. But did you know that it’s an important component that protects vital organs in your ear from damage? Ear wax functions by lubricating the skin and offering protection to the sensitive ear drum. Together with hair in the ear canal, ear wax is what keeps dust, insects and other foreign objects from entering the inner parts of your ear and causing serious damage or infections.
What is earwax made of?
Earwax, commonly known as cerumen is made of sebum, oils produced in the sebaceous glands in the body, as well as old skin cells and other secretions. Ear wax is also produced by the apocrine glands (the same glands that also produce sweat when you feel anxious). That is why the buildup occurs mostly when you feel tense. Ear wax can be wet or dry depending on your genes. Most people of European or African decent have wet earwax whereas dry earwax is more prevalent among people of American or Asian descent.
What to avoid when you have earwax
Earwax buildup is common and sometimes it becomes too much that it causes hearing issues such as tinnitus, vertigo or even causes damage to your hearing aids. By getting rid of excessive buildup of earwax, you can relieve these symptoms. Putting certain things in your ears such as a hair pin or key can cause more harm than good. You may end up pushing the ear wax further inside and blocking the ear canal. You can also puncture vital organs in the ear leading to permanent hearing loss.
What to do when you have excessive wax build up
One thing you need to understand is that ears are self-cleaning. The wax will be moved out as the skin in the ear canal grows outwards. Activities such as chewing food and talking also cause movements of cerumen out of the ear. This self-cleaning mechanism ensures that you don’t have to dig through your ears with foreign objects in order to remove wax. Using cotton buds is one common way to remove ear wax but this is not considered the safest method. You can easily push the earwax inside the ear canal causing more problems.
Probably the safest way to get rid of ear wax at home is to use a combination of hydrogen peroxide and water and put it in the ear a few times every week. This solution is prepared by mixing half of water and half of hydrogen peroxide. It works really well in softening the ear wax. The other option is to visit an ENT doctor and have the ear wax removed professionally.
Should you have any issues with earwax, especially if you use hearing aids, it is important to discuss with your audiologist on how to resolve it. Hearing devices can be damaged by earwax. You need to take steps to keep your ears clean and protect your devices.
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