What Causes Earwax Buildup?

Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

You probably don’t give a lot of thought to earwax buildup unless you’re in the process of cleaning it out. Nonetheless, comprehending what causes earwax, how it develops, and its purpose is essential.

What causes the accumulation of earwax?

Earwax, scientifically identified 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 usually be yellow, orange, brown, or even grey.

While the production amount of earwax differs from individual to individual, adults usually produce less earwax than kids. Kids also usually have softer earwax that’s lighter in color than adults.

Earwax goes by the outer ear canal leisurely, eventually reaching the ear opening, where it either self-expels or gets washed away during bathing.

Why do we need earwax?

Earwax serves several critical functions, such as:

  • Before things such as dust, dirt, or other outside debris get further up into the ear canal, earwax acts as a roadblock.
  • Stopping itchiness and dryness by lubricating and protecting the lining of the ear canal.
  • Fending off potential infections that may occur within the ear canal.

Earwax obstructions

Impacted earwax is a common issue, but it’s typically the only time you need to be concerned about it. Impacted earwax can stem from narrow or unusually shaped ear canals hindering the natural movement of earwax toward the ear’s periphery.

Improper ear hygiene methods, such as using cotton swabs or bobby pins, can inadvertently jam wax deeper into the ear canal.

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

How is hearing affected by too much earwax?

The presence of earwax blockages may yield slight discomfort and dampen auditory health.
Also, considerable buildup of earwax can trigger tinnitus, a sensation of ringing in the ears.

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

Addressing impacted earwax

If you suspect an earwax blockage, consulting us quickly is imperative. You may be advised to use over-the-counter products like a bulb syringe or earwax softening drops to clear the wax out, depending on the extent of the obstruction.

Give us a call right away if you need some assistance 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.