What Causes Earwax Buildup?

Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

It’s likely that earwax and its buildup haven’t been subjects of extensive contemplation for you, except perhaps during ear hygiene routines. Nonetheless, understanding what causes earwax, how it forms, and its purpose is essential.

What triggers the accumulation of earwax?

Earwax, technically known as cerumen, is a dense blend of debris, hair, skin particles, sweat, and ceruminous gland secretions. Earwax will appear as a waxy substance that will typically be yellow, orange, brown, or even grey.

In most situations, children tend to generate more earwax than adults. Children also typically have softer earwax that’s lighter in color than adults.

Earwax passes the outer ear canal naturally, eventually reaching the ear opening, where it either self-expels or gets washed out when you bathe.

Why do we need earwax?

Here are some essential functions that earwax serves:

  • Fending off potential infections that may develop within the ear canal.
  • Acting as a protective barrier against external irritants like dirt, dust, and other foreign particles before they infiltrate deeper into the ear.
  • Preventing itchiness and dryness by moisturizing and safeguarding the lining of the ear canal.

Blockages caused by earwax

Usually, there’s no critical need to remove earwax from your ears unless it becomes impacted, a common issue linked to earwax. Sometimes, earwax is unable to easily get to the opening of the ear as a result of narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals.

Poor ear hygiene methods, like using cotton swabs or bobby pins, can inadvertently force wax deeper into the ear canal.

Earwax blockages are frequently experienced by individuals who often use earplugs, earbuds, or hearing aids.

How excessive earwax can impact hearing

Auditory health might be impeded and you may feel mild discomfort.
Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, could also happen.

Acoustic trauma might result in long-term hearing loss, perforated eardrums, and long-term hearing loss if earwax obstructions go neglected.

How do you deal with impacted wax?

It’s essential that you get in touch with us as soon as possible if you think your ears may be blocked by earwax. You might be advised to use over-the-counter products like a bulb syringe or earwax softening drops to clean the wax out, depending on the severity of the blockage.

Call us right away if you need some help with an earwax blockage.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.