Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

EarwaxWhat Causes Buildup?

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Test Info

Close up image of ear with earwax buildup.

You most likely don’t give a lot of thought to earwax accumulation unless you’re in the process of cleaning it out. Nonetheless, understanding what causes earwax, how it forms, and its purpose is crucial.

So why does earwax build-up?

Earwax, also scientifically called cerumen, is made up of a mix of sweat, skin particles, hair, debris, and ceruminous gland secretions. This earwax presents with a waxy texture and can exhibit shades of orange, yellow, gray, or brown.

In most situations, kids tend to generate more earwax than adults. Moreover, adult earwax is usually darker and harder compared to that of kids.

Earwax gets expelled or washed out after passing the outer ear canal and reaching the opening of the ear.

Why do we need earwax?

Earwax serves several essential functions, such as:

  • Fending off potential infections that may develop within the ear canal.
  • Protecting and moisturizing the skin lining the ear canal, thus preventing dryness and itchiness.
  • Acting as a protective barricade against external irritants such as dirt, dust, and other foreign particles before they infiltrate deeper into the ear.

Blockages caused by earwax

Typically, there’s no critical need to clean out earwax from your ears unless it becomes impacted, a prevalent issue associated with earwax. 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 unintentionally force wax deeper into the ear canal.

People grappling with hearing loss who use earplugs or hearing aids are also predisposed to experiencing ear canal blockages.

How excessive earwax can affect hearing

The occurrence of earwax blockages might yield slight discomfort and dampen auditory health.
Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, could also occur.

Neglected earwax obstructions might escalate into middle ear infections, perforated eardrums, or lasting hearing impairment due to acoustic trauma.

Dealing with impacted earwax

If you suspect an earwax blockage, consulting us promptly is essential. Depending on the extent of the obstruction, you might be advised to make use of over-the-counter wax softening drops or a bulb syringe for delicate irrigation to relieve the condition.

Contact us right away if you need some help with an earwax obstruction.

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.

Questions? Talk To Us.