What is ear wax and why is it important? You probably only think about ear wax when your ear itches or it is time for someone to look in your ear like your Audiologist or an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat). Does the thought of someone looking in your ears make you nervous? Do you think wax = dirty? Read on for 5 important things about ear wax that I bet you didn’t know.
- What is ear wax?
The medical term for ear wax is cerumen. It is a natural lubricant for the ear canal. It traps small dust particles, collects dead skin cells, and any small airborne items before they get to the ear drum.
2. Where is ear wax produced?
It’s not purchased at the candle factory, that’s for sure! It is produced deep in the ear canal and secreted by the cerumen glands. The ear wax migrates and flakes out of the opening of the ear canal.
Some ear wax becomes hard and dry. When this happens, it needs to be removed manually. The best way to remove ear wax is to purchase over-the-counter ear drops to soften the wax. You then flush the wax our when taking a shower by letting the water from the shower head run into the ear canal.
3. Should I use a cotton swab to clean my ear canals?
One word answer here and that is NO!
You have small hairs deep in your ear canal and these hairs move the wax out. When you use a cotton swab, not only can you push the wax further into the ear canal, but you may also damage these tiny hairs. When these tiny hairs are damaged, they can no longer move the wax out of the ear canal.
4. Can ear wax cause hearing loss?
Yes! If your ear canal is impacted with ear wax, it can prevent the sound waves from getting to the ear drum, thus causing a temporary conductive hearing loss.
Once the wax is removed, the hearing comes back to where it was before the accumulation of the wax.
5. I’ve heard about using ear “candles” to clean wax out of ear canals, is this a good idea?
In my opinion, you should not try this. Using a flame near your ear, hair or eyes is never a good idea.
These products may worsen wax buildup.
If you experience signs of impacted earwax, excess earwax or hearing loss, please schedule an appointment at Integrity Hearing Center in Troy or Hermann.