What is the Purpose of Ear Wax?

The production of ear wax is one of ear’s defenses to harmful bacteria and particles in the air. Ear wax, also called Cerumen, is produced in the outer part of the ear canal. Ear wax can be different colors and consistencies depending upon the individual; it is made of a combination of dead skin cells and hairs mixed with two different gland secretions.

Ear wax is completely normal, unless the color changes from yellow or yellowish-orange to very dark in color or if it contains blood or infection. Overproduction can be an annoyance, and it can be a sign of an underlying issue within the ear. If you are removing ear wax constantly or on a consistent basis, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with your ENT Specialist.

When Ear Wax Can Become a Problem

Ear wax can build up in the ear canal to a point where it causes complications. Cerumen impaction happens when ear wax builds and blocks off the canal, causing hearing loss, irritations, or potential problems if going undiagnosed.

Symptoms of Cerumen Impaction:

  • Difficulty hearing that is worsening
  • Discharge (greenish or contains dried blood) from the ear
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Ear pain or ringing noises
  • Itchiness inside the ear
  • Dizziness

When it comes to preventative care, it is important to understand that the human ear is designed to clean itself. Earwax buildup and blockage often occurs, because people incorrectly use cotton swabs or Q-Tips to clean their ears. Instead of getting rid of the wax, the wax is pushed deeper into the ear canal causing impaction or injury. When using swabs, only clean the outside of the ear canal. Do NOT use ear wax candles or suction devices to clean your own ears. Although there are some home remedies that may help remove ear wax, impactions must be removed with special devices by a healthcare provider. Using these devices on your own may cause greater harm or damage.

For questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today: (770) 237-3000.