What is Earwax?

Earwax is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It serves as a water repellent for the auditory canal. Earwax is produced by tiny glands in the outer ear passage/canal. These glands are called ceruminous glands and they are a special type of sweat gland. They produce earwax to form a protective coating inside the ear canal. The wax traps dust and other tiny objects, preventing them from getting into the delicate interior of the ear.

Some people produce more earwax than others. It usually makes its way out of the ear gradually. Little pieces or flakes of wax fall out of the ear from time to time, but in some people the wax builds up and hardens, forming a blockage.

Causes of earwax

There are number of factors leading to a build up of Earwax these include:

  • Excessive production of wax that the ear cannot clear naturally.
  • Persistent exposure to loud noise triggering the above response.
  • Viral infections.
  • Narrow ear canals or those, which lie at an angle slowing the natural passage of wax leading to build up.
  • A dusty or dirty working environment.
  • Earplugs and hearing aids. Should the natural self cleaning process fail due to misguided use of cotton buds or hearing aids the wax can be pushed deeper down the into the auditory canal where it can become impacted.
  • Poking the ear canal with towels or fingers etc. encourages the glands to produce more wax.
Most people’s ears clear the wax as fast as it is produced but if it builds up it can cause problems.

Symptoms of compacted earwax include:

  • Mild to severe hearing loss
  • Pain in either or both ears
  • Accentuates tinnitus
  • Dizziness or Vertigo
  • Itching
  • Otitis externa
  • Reflex cough