Why Does Wax Build Up Occur In Our Ears, and What Can We Do About It?

by | Nov 19, 2022 | Miscellaneous

Let’s talk about earwax

Listen, we all have earwax, but it’s one of those topics related to natural occurrences in our bodies that we tend to avoid. Earwax is…well, it’s kinda gross, right? Sure, it’s a fact of life that we have to deal with. (And audiologists have to deal with it more than most!) 

But what exactly is earwax? Why does earwax build up in our ears, and what can we do about it? 

Earwax, in the medical world referred to as cerumen, is composed of a variety of different things. (Here’s where things get a bit unpleasant.) Cerumen is the result of glandular secretions, sweat, hair, and dead skin cells.

While earwax is often considered something that we need to rid our ears of, it’s actually good for our ear health. 

Why earwax is better than you might think!

Earwax is more than just a combination of environmental debris and bodily secretions that collects in our ears. It actually has its benefits!

It coats our ear canals, protecting them from bacterial growth and preventing ear infections. 

Earwax also prevents our ear canals from getting too dry, which can feel itchy and uncomfortable.

Having earwax is not a sign that you have poor hygiene. It’s a completely natural occurrence in the body, and despite what you may have been led to believe throughout most of your life, most people do not need to clean their ears — especially the way most typically do!

Why cotton swabs shouldn’t go in your ears

What many people are surprised to discover about their ears is that they are a mostly self-cleaning organ. 

It’s true. Talking, chewing, and other jaw related movements will move the earwax through the ear canal, where it eventually works its way out of our ears altogether. 

Now, I know that some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but I have to clean my ears every day after I get out of shower. I hate the feelings of wet, waxy ears!”

While we understand this perspective, as audiology professionals, we also understand that this feeling is usually born more out of habit than it is necessity.

Putting cotton swabs in your ears is actually a big negative for your ear and hearing health. The cotton swabs may pull some earwax out of your ears, what they’re mostly doing is pushing earwax deeper into your ear canals, which can lead to blockage, earaches, ear infections, and more. 

The cotton swab habit will make earwax even more difficult to remove because of how impacted it will eventually become. This level of blockage, in addition to the possibility of infection that we already mentioned, can even cause feelings of dizziness, imbalance, and nausea. 

What’s the appropriate way to clean our ears?

If you’re experiencing blockage in your ears due to earwax, or any blockage at all, for that matter, we would encourage you to book an appointment with our practice so that we can examine your ears and determine the source of the blockage. 

If it is indeed earwax, then our team will use specialized tools and techniques to remove the wax or the source of the obstruction so your ears can feel open and clean again. Many who have had their ear blockages removed by the Colorado Ear Care team report a reduction in headaches and discomfort, and that even their hearing has improved.

Again, we urge you and your loved ones to stop putting cotton swabs in your ears. What feels appropriate in the moment will have negative effects later on. 

Of course, we also want to address the fact that some people really do produce an excessive amount of earwax, and may not be comfortable just letting their ears clean themselves. So what should they do? 

One way of safely cleaning your ears is in the shower, but still, you should be careful that you’re cleaning them safely and correctly. 

Using warm water and a washcloth, you can safely clean the backs of your ears, earlobes, and the outer folds of your ears. Do not attempt to stick the washcloth into your outer ear canals in order to clean them. Same as it is with cotton swabs, this technique will ultimately push earwax deeper into your ears, causing the blockage you’re trying to avoid. 

Another option to ensure the level of safety and cleanliness you desire is to book regular appointments to have your ears cleaned. For those who experience an excessive amount of earwax, this is the perfect option.

So what causes earwax buildup and even blockage in our ears? More often than not, it’s due to our own misguided attempts at trying to keep our ears clean!

Just remember that earwax serves a purpose — it helps to keep our ear canals moisturized, protects us from infection, and helps to trap debris before it goes too deeply into our ear canals. 

If you’re someone who feels that you might be experiencing blockage in your ears, or if you produce what feels like an excessive amount of earwax, then please contact Colorado Ear Care today. We’ll work with you to book an appointment, assess your ear health, and recommend the best techniques for removing the blockage and keeping your ears healthy and clean. Contact us today!

Talk with one of our friendly hearing and balance professionals today.