Ear health is an essential aspect of our overall well-being. Our ears are responsible for hearing and maintaining balance, which is crucial for our daily activities. If left unchecked, the ears can accumulate ear wax, which is a natural substance the ear canal produces
Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a waxy, oily substance that helps protect the ear from dust, dirt, and other foreign particles that may enter the ear. Ear wax also serves as a lubricant, keeping the ear canal moist and preventing it from drying out. The amount and type of ear wax produced vary from person to person, depending on several factors, such as age, genetics, and environment. Some people have more ear wax than others, while others create a drier type.
However, ear wax goes deeper than one might realise, so we will discuss some lesser-known facts about it. These include:
#1 – Ear Wax Is Not Actually Wax
Despite its name, ear wax is not actually made up of wax. Instead, it is a mixture of various substances, including dead skin cells, oil, and sweat. The main component of ear wax is a fatty acid called sebum, produced by the ear canal glands.
The sebum combines with other substances to form a sticky, waxy substance that helps to protect the ear from foreign particles and infection. Over time, this substance can build up and harden, leading to the formation of ear wax.
#2 – Ear Wax Helps Clean the Ear
Ear wax may be a nuisance, but it plays a vital role in cleaning the ear. As the ear wax forms, it collects dirt, dust, and other debris that may enter the ear canal. This helps to prevent these particles from reaching the delicate inner ear and causing damage or infection.
In addition, ear wax contains natural antibacterial properties that help to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses that may enter the ear canal. This helps to keep the ear clean and healthy. However, you must ensure it doesn’t accumulate too much.
#3 – Your Ear Wax’s Colour Can Change
The colour of your ear wax can vary depending on factors such as age, environment, and genetics. Generally, ear wax is yellowish-brown but can also be dark brown, black, or white. If you notice a sudden change in the colour or consistency of your ear wax, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition, so you should consult your doctor.
#4 – Ear Wax Is the Leading Cause of Hearing Problems
It may be a no-brainer, but excessive ear wax buildup is the leading cause of hearing problems. When too much ear wax accumulates in the ear canal, it can block sound waves from reaching the eardrum, leading to temporary hearing loss. This is why it’s essential to regularly clean your ears and seek medical assistance if you experience hearing problems.
How to Clean Ear Wax Properly
While ear wax is a natural substance that helps protect the ear, an excessive buildup can harm your ear’s health. Here are some tips on how to clean ear wax properly:
Avoid Using Cotton Swabs
Contrary to popular belief, using cotton swabs to clean your ears is not recommended as it can push ear wax deeper into the ear canal, causing blockages or even damaging the eardrum. Instead, try using a damp washcloth or tissue to clean around the outer ear gently.
Avoid Applying Too Much Pressure
When cleaning your ears, you must be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure. This can cause damage to the sensitive skin in the ear canal and even cause hearing loss. Instead, use a gentle, circular motion to clean the outer ear.
Use Ear Drops
If you have excess ear wax buildup, consider using ear drops to help soften and loosen the wax. Many over-the-counter ear drops are available at pharmacies, or you can ask your doctor for a prescription.
Never Use Ear Candling
Ear candling is a dangerous alternative therapy that involves inserting a hollow candle into the ear canal and lighting it on fire. The theory is that the heat and suction will draw out ear wax and other impurities. However, no scientific evidence supports this practice, and it can cause severe injury or damage to the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. It can also lead to burns, infections and hearing loss.
Ear wax is a natural and vital substance that helps keep our ears clean and healthy. However, it’s also your responsibility to remove it if there’s too much buildup or if it’s causing discomfort or hearing difficulties. All that matters is doing it safely and effectively to ensure you don’t cause any harm to your ears or hearing.
Country Hearing Care can help you if you require ear wax removal. You must always focus on your hearing health, so our ear doctors provide comprehensive treatment options to ensure you can hear everything around you. Call us today at 1800 432 748 to schedule a hearing test!