Contributed by Debbie Clason
Of all the substances our bodies excrete, earwax has to be one of the most mysterious. What possible reason could our ears have for producing this waxy substance? Medical professionals may not yet completely understand all of its properties, but they are certain of its protective nature. To understand more, we’ve assembled some interesting facts about earwax—and why you shouldn’t be so hasty to remove it.
Earwax: gross but healthy
The medical term for earwax is cerumen, a naturally occurring substance in the outer ear. Ingredients for a good batch of earwax include oil and sweat mixed with dirt and dead skin cells. It’s hard to believe something so unappealing can be so important to your ears' good health, yet being sticky and smelly is exactly why a normal amount of ear wax is beneficial. Consider these attributes:
Your earwax says a lot about you
Although most everyone’s ears produce earwax, that’s where the similarity ends. Its composition varies from person to person, depending on their ethnicity, environment, age and diet.
There are two primary types of earwax—wet and dry:
Even the color of your cerumen can say a lot about you.
Too much earwax?
Usually, the body knows exactly how much earwax to produce. As long as you maintain a healthy diet, have good hygiene and move your jaw (think chewing and talking), your ears will naturally expel excess earwax, dirt and debris without any intervention. In fact, when you make a habit of removing earwax, that sends a signal to your body to make more, creating an excess which can interfere with hearing, put you at greater risk for developing ear infections and other complications.
Stress and fear can also accelerate earwax production. That’s because the same apocrine glands that produce sweat also produce cerumen. Others who have a tendency to produce too much earwax include those:
How to safely clean your ears
Even though earwax has its benefits, blockages can cause a conductive hearing loss. If you develop a sensation of stuffiness in your ears and suspect earwax is the culprit:
How to clean your ears
Reprinted with permission. Copyright Healthy Hearing (www.healthyhearing.com). Original article: https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52679-What-you-need-to-know-about-earwax