Earwax is one of the more unappealing substances that our body produces, and it certainly isn’t a subject for polite dinner conversation. While we all have it, earwax seems to be a taboo topic that gives most people the jitters. However, did you know that earwax isn’t even wax at all? If you want to know a bit more about the gunk that comes out of your ears, then keep reading.
What is earwax?
The medical terminology for earwax is cerumen, and it is a mixture of skin cells, sweat, dirt, and sebum. Regardless of how revolting you might find earwax to be, it is still essential to maintain proper hearing function. The tiny hairs in your ear, along with this earwax, will protect your delicate eardrum from debris and other foreign particles and keep your ear canal moisturized. Too little earwax, and you’ll probably end up with annoyingly itchy ears that often get infected. Too much earwax and your ear canal can clog up, causing:
- Unpleasant odor
What should earwax look like?
Lighter-colored earwax is often dry and flakes off; it is more prevalent in Asian and Native American people. Wetter, stickier earwax is more common in African and Caucasian people. The correlation is so evident that human genome studies have mapped how earwax can be linked to humans’ adaptation in differing environments. We bet you didn’t know that your lineage could be tracked by an earwax sample!
If you are a person that secretly gets immense satisfaction from things like popping pimples or peeling skin, then take a look at a hearing specialist taking out vast chunks of earwax. Believe it or not, earwax is also known to be an insect repellent, but it doesn’t always work out. If you want to examine this further and have a strong stomach, look at this bug and earwax removal video.
How do you get rid of earwax?
You’ve likely been told not to use Q-Tips or cotton buds to get rid of earwax, so are there remedies to eliminate earwax? Keep in mind that you don’t want to eliminate earwax altogether, but you may want to keep it in check. Try to avoid putting anything in your ears. You can clean the outside but don’t poke anything into your ear canal. Seek out a qualified audiologist, hearing specialist, or pharmacist for advice if you have a sudden loss of hearing. They might suggest an over-the-counter earwax removal solution, or they may flush out your ears.
Along with the additional groans and creaks, as we age, earwax often becomes more of an issue. This can seriously impact hearing and our overall well-being, as vertigo can lead to an increase in falls. Those with more hair in their ears or people with a history of ear infections may be more susceptible to a buildup of earwax. If you have an issue with earwax build up, remember that you aren’t alone. Earwax buildup sends around 12 million people looking for medical treatment every year in the United States.