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Spotlight on Ear Wax

Thursday, January 12, 2017 12:59:23 PM Australia/Melbourne

Spotlight on Ear Wax- Part III

Our last post on the Hearlink blog jogged a thought, a topic that we’ve yet to cover here, but an important one to share. While hearing impediments span the spectrum of severity and variety, we tend to focus on the most serious. Though these may incur larger costs to treat and more research to identify, sometimes it’s important to get back to basics. Hearing impairments can be as simple as a build up of ear wax. Ear wax may sound like one of those taboo bodily fluids that you don’t want to discuss with your family or friends, but sometimes it truly is the culprit for a myriad of health concerns. How satisfying is it, when your doctor can pinpoint an easy-to-remedy health concern? It’s becoming more and more rare in today’s age, so we’ll take a simple solution, wherever we can!


What is Ear Wax?

Ear wax is also known as cerumen. We’re betting you’re familiar with it, but if you’re not- it’s the yellow-brown-gray substance, with a waxy texture that you can find within your ear canals. Almost all mammals have ear wax. It’s a beneficial substance as it protects the skin within your ear canal. It also, ironically, helps with cleaning out your ears. In some cases, it even protects your ears against bacteria or fungi, which can have a negative effect.


How does it sustain that texture? Ear wax is made up of hair and skin, as well as secretions from the sebaceous and ceruminous glands, right outside the ear canal. Earwax is composed of long chain fatty acids, squalene and cholesterol. The cerumen is what we want to focus on here. If its too tightly compacted, or there is too much of it, that’s when you start to feel the pressure against your ear drum or even an entire blockage of the ear canal. If there is a blockage of the ear canal, that’s when you’ll start to see hearing loss.


While experts haven’t specifically identified why we have ear wax, they do know that one of its benefits is that it traps particles like dust that should not be entering your ear, as they can cause your ear serious damage. You may be thinking… I rarely notice ear wax, and I certainly have never had any issues related to hearing that I could blame on it. That’s because normally, ear wax will dry up easily and then fall out of your ear. When it does that, the dust or debris falls out as well, rendering it a non-issue. If you find issue with ear wax, is probably genetically related. This is because if your ear canal is smaller or it is shaped in a more unique way, then it’s slightly harder for ear wax to naturally exit your ear canal.


Different Types of Ear Wax

There are two different types of ear wax. There is wet ear wax and there is dry ear wax. Wet ear wax is also known as dominant ear wax. Dry ear wax is also known as recessive ear wax. The different types are very aligned with your cultural heritage. Native Americans and Asians are more likely to have dry ear wax. Those of African or European descent are more likely to have wet ear wax. To this point, ear wax has played an important role for scientists and anthropologists, to track migratory patterns of our ancestors. There is even a specific gene, which helps to identify whether an individual’s ear wax will be wet ear wax or dry ear wax.


Spotlight on Ear Wax- Part II

Why is Ear Wax Good For You?

You already know that earwax buildup is, that your ear canals produce cerumen, the waxy oil that we know as ear wax. You may be wondering how this can possibly be good for you. In fact, your ear wax creates a barricade between excessive amounts of water as well as external objects like foreign particles, like dust, and like microorganisms which can cause damage to your ears.


That’s only if there is an adequate amount of ear wax, which is present in your ears. More often than not, your glands produce far more ear wax than you need. Its then, that your ear wax consistency becomes hard and then blocks the ears. Is cleaning your ears one of your favorite things to do? If so, and the earwax has already reached a hard consistency, then you’re just pushing the earwax further and further into the ear, creating a blockage and potentially causing even more problems—the most prominent? Hearing loss. Since hearing loss is something that Hearlink wants to avoid as much as possible, simple issues like ear wax that are easier to eradicate, are an easy solution to get after.


Ear Wax Removal Don'ts

In order to avoid a culture of fear, we recommend the following to make sure that you’re not creating a buildup of ear wax. They’re easier than you’d assume- stop sticking things too far into your ears! Stop cleaning out your ears multiple times a day using cotton swabs, and stop pushing your ear buds deep into your ears, whenever you’re like to listen to music. Here’s a hint—pushing your earbuds deeper into your ears, actually won’t amplify the volume of the music any further.


It can seem like an easy solution to seek out your box of Q-tips, insert one into your ear and clean out your ear wax, that way. This is a number one no-no as far as Hearlink is concerned. When you clean your ears this way, you’re removing superficial earwax, or the earwax that’s most accessible from the outside of the ear canal, but you’re actually pushing the rest of the ear wax even deeper into the ear canal, which creates an even bigger problem!


How to Remove Ear Wax

So now it’s time to learn how to eradicate ear wax. Head to your pharmacy or audiology expert to learn about ways to soften the ear wax. Several examples include mineral oil, baby oil, carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. You can also choose to remove the earwax using irrigation. The steps are easy—make sure that your head is upright, pull the outside of the your ear gently forward, use a syringe to stream warm water into your ear and then tip your head to drain the water. Make sure that if you choose this route, or embarking on any at-home adventures, you’re working directly with an audiology expert or doctor.


An how about red flags? These symptoms mean that it’s time to put in a call to Hearlink or to your local audiology expert. Symptoms include- pain in one or both of your ears, dizziness, issues hearing conversations (especially with those in close proximity), ringing in your ears (this may seem like tinnitus but might actually not be) or itching in your ears. None of these are anything to get upset over. Rather, you should be proud that you were able to pinpoint something not quite right with your health, and you should be even more proud that you know exactly who to reach out to.


Do you have a question about ear wax that we can help to answer? Would you like to learn more about our ear wax removal services? Please feel free to reach out to the Hearlink team. We would love to hear from you.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin