Earwax, also known medically as cerumen, is a substance produced in the outer part of the ear canal, consisting of oil, dead skin, hair, bacteria, and trapped moisture. Our bodies produce it to protect our ears from water, dirt, insects, fungi, bacteria, and foreign objects. The amount of earwax produced, as well as its colour and consistency, varies from person to person. Earwax comes in wet and dry forms. Wet earwax contains more lipids, which are important substances in our bodies that protect the structure and function of living cells. They are made up of fats and oils. On the other hand, the proportion of lipids in dry earwax is lower. Earwax has both lubricating and antibacterial properties, and a healthy amount of earwax can reduce inflammation. However, too much earwax can lead to ear infections, which is why ear wax removal is important.
Symptoms of Excessive Earwax
When your body produces too much earwax or it is unable to remove earwax normally, you may experience these signs and symptoms.
What Causes Earwax Buildup?
Excessive earwax can be caused by many factors. Firstly, a narrow ear shape can affect how earwax is removed; because natural ear wax removal is achieved through chewing or talking, a narrow ear shape may interfere with the natural removal of earwax. Earwax overproduction can also be a major factor; it can be caused by trauma, trapped water, or other unknown causes. Swimmers may produce more earwax, and those who wear hearing aids may have more earwax accumulating in their ears because the hearing aids prevent earwax from falling out naturally.
Other risk factors include:
What Should You Do?
It is crucial to seek medical treatment at an ENT specialist clinic if you experience earwax buildup or impacted earwax. This is because earwax blockage can lead to hearing loss, irritation, pain, dizziness, and other problems that will affect your quality of life. There are three earwax removal methods that ENT specialists may recommend.
Prevention and Things to Take Note of
Although earwax is produced to protect you, too much of it can cause multiple problems. Always take care of your ears gently and seek medical attention if you notice any symptoms of earwax buildup or blockage.
Dr Jenica Yong is an ENT specialist in Singapore with a team of experienced healthcare professionals ready to resolve your ear, nose and throat conditions. Schedule your consultation with us today.