When was the last time you got beyond the thought of that waxy yellow thing that comes out of your ear every now and then? Maybe some time ago?
Earwax is one of those things that most of us pay little attention to until we have an ear infection or blockage, so here are some interesting facts about earwax that you may have never learned.
Earwax has another name
Earwax also goes by the correct medical term, cerumen.
Earwax isn’t actually wax
It gets its name because it has a wax-like sticky texture, but earwax is not wax. A precise earwax recipe requires a good dose of sebum (a bodily secretion made up mostly of sebum), skin cells, sweat, and dirt.
Earwax is very important…
Earwax is produced by the ear to clean and protect itself. It is secreted by skin glands that line the outside of the ear canal. The wax and small hairs in these areas trap dust and other foreign particles and damage deeper structures such as the eardrum.
…. but you can have too much of a good thing
People with too little earwax have itchy ears that are prone to infections, while blocked ear canals can cause earaches, mild deafness, stuffy ears, tinnitus, infections, and other problems.
Earwax says a lot about you
There are actually two types of earwax, wet and dry. Wet earwax is common among Caucasians and Africans and is usually dark yellow and sticky. For people of East Asian or Native American ancestry, the earwax is often light-colored, dry, and flaky.
The color of the earwax can change
The consistency of earwax will vary depending on your environment and diet. If you work in a dirty environment, a darker wax may appear. Wax that has been stored in the ear for a long time is more contaminated and therefore darker in color.
You should never put anything in your ears
It is not recommended to stick anything in the ear to remove earwax. Sticking cotton buds, paper clips, bobby pins, or sharp objects in your ear is not only dangerous, but it also makes the wax build-up worse when it pushes the wax into the ear canal.
Earwax is a common cause of hearing loss
Earwax can cause hearing problems when it begins to build up in our ears, a process called impaction.
Symptoms of affected earwax include hearing loss, ear pain, ear fullness, itchy ears, dizziness, tinnitus, and cough.
How to clean your inner ear properly
You don’t need to clean your inner ear. Ears are self-cleaning, so earwax should come out of your ear naturally and can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
If you have an earwax build-up that’s causing problems, see your doctor to have it removed. You can also get earwax release drops at the drugstore. In general, you should use these drops twice a week to loosen earwax, before removing the outer ear with a cloth – but follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Stay away from ear candles
Ear wax is marketed as a solution to removing wax from the ear canal, but often does more harm than good. Not surprisingly, when flames are lit near your head, they burn your face, outer ear, eardrum, and inner ear. . They also worsen earwax build-up and are not recommended.