If you’ve ever experienced a build-up of earwax in your ear canal, you’ll know that it can be an annoying issue. While earwax itself is a healthy and natural part of how your ears clean, lubricate and defend themselves, there is such a thing as too much wax.
Ears are self-cleaning and for most people ear wax is not usually a problem. Nevertheless, for various reasons, it can sometimes build up and become visible, cause discomfort or even lead to hearing loss. If this is the case, you may be after a few tips which may help with your excess earwax.
Earwax (scientifically known as cerumen) is produced by the cells in the ears to help provide an extra layer of protection from infection. It also helps prevent damage to the skin in both the ears’ canals and eardrums.
Essentially, wax is the is the ears’ equivalent of ‘sleep’ that you might get in your eyes overnight or the mucus you get in your nose to clear it of dust and unwanted bacteria. Earwax helps to trap dust, dead cells and skin, in addition to clearing the ears of potentially harmful bacteria or fungi.Ears are often referred to as being self-cleaning. That’s because the skin of the ear canal grows towards the outside of the ear like a conveyor belt, slowly carrying wax and anything trapped inside it out. Some people may naturally produce more earwax than others, though. Although a build-up of earwax isn’t serious, it can cause irritation if it’s not removed properly1.
Particularly large blockages of earwax can cause tinnitus – a condition which causes a ringing in your ears.
There are a number of different approaches which all boil down to either trying to soften the earwax so your ear can move it along on its own or gently helping to wash it out.
If the above methods have not helped with your excess earwax there may be something else that is causing it. It might be worth having a chat with your GP about other potential causes.
Last updated: 20 April 2020