Ear wax is a completely natural wax-like substance, secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. Earwax assists in repelling water and trapping small dirt and dust particles from entering your inner ear canal.
When you think about it, it’s kind of weird how much the “gross stuff” our bodies produce can tell us about our health. A saliva sample can detect anemia; feces can pinpoint various types of cancer; urine can detect problems of the bladder, kidney and prostate…and so on. Turns out that our earwax can also tell us quite a bit.
First, we’ll talk a bit about the stuff and why it’s there. Then we’ll discuss what earwax tells us our health.
What is earwax?
As its name implies, earwax is a yellow waxy secretion of the ear. It is produced by the cerumen (suh-roo-mun) glands underneath the skin of the external ear canal (the part located between the fleshy and middle parts of the ear).
When most of us (including this writer) think of earwax, we just think of it as some nasty byproduct that needs a Q-tip once in a while. Actually, earwax is quite important.
– It moisturizes and protects the skin.
– It prevents dry, itchy ears; especially within the ear canal.
– It contains chemicals that ward off potential ear infections.
– It helps prevent damage to the ear drum by suppressing outside noise.
– It traps dirt, dust and other foreign agents that enter the ear canal.
What Your Earwax Says About Your Health
You’re not sick. You’re just getting older. As people age, the wax tends to get more flaky as opposed to like peanut butter. Don’t freak out. Glands in general tend to dry out as we get older.
The color of each person’s ear wax can vary, but there are some colors that are natural, and others that indicate a serious health problem.
“Normal earwax ranges from light orange to dark brown, but if it’s yellow, green, white, or black, that suggests an infection and you need to see a doctor,” says Benjamin Tweel, MD, an otolaryngologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
You may have an infection or damage in the middle part of your ear. This can lead to a number of symptoms that, together, doctors refer to as “chronic otitis media.” One of those symptoms: “You could get a foul-smelling drainage from your ear,” Comer says. If your middle ear is messed up, you may also notice problems with your sense of balance, a ringing in your ears, or the sensation that your ear is full or blocked. See your doc.
Scratching your ear every once in awhile doesn’t mean that there’s a problem with your ear, but if you are constantly itching and scratching there is a chance you could have an infection.
Earwax Removal: Do It the Right Way
Ear wax isn’t bad, it keeps your ears dry and prevents infection, but you do want to keep it from obstructing your ears. Ideally, the ears will never have actually to be cleaned, however this is not always the case. If you are experiencing symptoms that are hindering your daily life, seek advice from a physician or clean your ears safely using appropriate methods.
First things initially, when it concerns earwax elimination, do not utilize cotton-tipped applicators (such as Q-tips) because you run the risk of breaking your eardrum. It’s also possible to jam ear wax even deeper into the ear shaft. These applicators might also increase the risk of bacterial infection in the external ear canal
Rather, visit your doctor regularly to have them clean out your ears, or attempt this safe ear cleansing approach at house:
1. Soften the wax – Use an eyedropper to use a few drops of natural baby oil or glycerin in your ear canal.
2. Use warm water – After a day or more, when the wax has actually softened, utilize a rubber-bulb syringe to gently spray warm water into your ear canal. Tilt your head to align the ear canal and permit the water to go into the ear, and when you are ended up watering suggestion your go to the side and let the water drain out.
3. Dry your ear canal – When you’re finished, carefully dry your outer ear with a tidy towel.
Do not have your ears watered if you have diabetes, a hole in the eardrum (perforation), tube in the eardrum, skin problems such as eczema in the ear canal or a weakened body immune system.
For something that’s believed about so occasionally throughout the day, earwax can offer us some crucial ideas regarding our general health and wellness. Taking good care of our ears will ensure that our hearing stays superior throughout our lives. Something as easy as changing the method that you clean your ears can have a huge influence on your health.