Whenever someone mentions the word ear wax it is often followed by an unfavourable reaction, however, ear wax is pretty interesting. Really it is! We will discuss 7 things today that you properly didn’t know about ear wax.
Ear Wax Isn’t Actually Wax
So then why is it called ear wax? The name comes from the waxy texture but ear wax is in fact made up of sebum (a body secretion made up mostly of fat), skin cells, sweat and dirt. Beautiful!
Ear Wax Protects Our Ears
The main job of ear wax is to be the first line of defence for the ears. Not only does ear wax lubricate the skin in the ear canal it has natural antimicrobial properties, stopping infections before they start. The sticky substance also helps to trap any dirt or foreign objects i.e. small insects that may enter the ear, preventing them from reaching the inner ear.
Ear Wax Is Self Cleaning
For most people, ear wax will regulate itself and exit the ears naturally. Cotton swabs are a favourite way for people to clean their ears, however, this process can actually do more harm than good and push back the ear wax further down the ear canal resulting in a blockage. Usually, the motion of taking and chewing food will naturally guide the wax towards the outer ear where it will fall out. Any remaining wax in the outer ears can be cleaned in the shower or with a damp cloth.
Ear Wax Comes In 2 Forms
Many people think that all ear wax is the same but it actually comes in 2 variations, wet and dry. The type of ear wax that you have depends on genetics just like your hair and eye colour. Wet ear wax is the dominant gene which means that it is the most common type however people of East Asian descent, from China or Korea, commonly have the recessive dry gene.
Ear Wax Comes In Different Colours
When you think of ear wax you will mostly think of the yellowly, orange colour that is usually seen however ear wax can come in different colours. Each colour generally has a different meaning including:
- Yellow / Orange – Fresh, normal ear wax
- Pale Orange – Dry, old ear wax
- Black – Impacted ear wax
- Gray – Build up of dust or other particles in the ear
- Streaks Of Red – Sctrach, injury or bug bite in the ear canal. Could also be a sign of a ruptured ear drum.
- Green – Ear infection
Stress Can Increase Ear Wax Production
As weirdly as it sounds, stress can lead to the increase in ear wax. Apocrine glands that help to secrete ear wax and are responsible for your smelly sweat are more active when you are stressed. When we are stressed we tend to sweat more which in turn can lead to the production of more ear wax.
Ear Wax Is A Common Cause Of Hearing Problems
Too much ear wax can cause problems to our hearing. One of the most common reasons for hearing loss is a build-up of ear wax in the ear canal. Symptoms of impacted ear wax include hearing loss, ear pain, sense of ear fullness, itchiness in the ear, dizziness and also tinnitus i.e. ringing in the ear.
If you are affected by any of the above symptoms you should book an ear examination at your local audiologist. London Hearing Specialist are hearing experts who can help with impacted ear wax with our micorsuction ear wax removal service.