Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Ear Wax

Oct 20, 2023 By Nancy Miller

Are you curious about ear wax or have questions about why exactly it's produced in the first place? Many of us take for granted that this waxy substance is just a fact of life, but actually, there are plenty of interesting facts and information to be gained by delving deeper into the science behind ear wax. In this blog post, we'll explore everything you need to know about ear wax: its functions, types, removal methods, and more! So stop wondering what lurks beyond your ear canal - read on to discover just how important and beneficial your body's natural form of protection can be.

Types of Ear Wax:

Here are the types of ear wax that are commonly found in individuals:

Wet ear wax: This type of ear wax is commonly found in people with African or European ancestry. It is classified as wet because it tends to have a softer and more viscous texture.

Dry ear wax: This type of ear wax is typically found in people with Asian ancestry. It has a drier and flakier texture compared to wet ear wax.

Sticky ear wax: As the name suggests, this type of ear wax is sticky and tends to adhere more to the inner ear canal. It can be found in people of any ancestry.

Flaky ear wax: This type of ear wax can be found in people of any ancestry. It has a dry and crumbly texture, making it easier to remove from the ear canal.

Causes of Ear Wax Buildup:

Here are a few common causes of excessive ear wax production: reasons why ear wax is produced:

Overproduction of ear wax: Some people naturally produce more ear wax than others. This can lead to a buildup or blockage in the ear canal.

Inadequate Ear Cleaning: If you don't regularly clean your ears, ear wax can accumulate and cause a blockage.

Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to produce more ear wax than others. This can be attributed to their family history.

Age: As we get older, our bodies tend to produce less ear wax, which can lead to increased build-up if not removed regularly.

Dryness or irritation of the ear canal: If the inner ear is dry or irritated, the body may produce more wax as a protective measure.

Narrow ear canals: Individuals with narrow ear canals may experience a build-up of ear wax due to the lack of space for it to naturally come out.

Moisturization: Ear wax also serves as a natural moisturizer for the skin inside the ear canal, so the body may produce more of it to keep the skin hydrated.

Obstruction of sound waves: One of the main functions of ear wax is to protect our ears from harmful substances and foreign objects, but it also plays a crucial role in our hearing. When sound waves enter our ear canal, they first encounter the layer of ear wax.

The wax helps to slow down and redirect these sound waves, preventing them from damaging our eardrums or causing hearing loss. This is especially important for loud or sudden sounds that can potentially harm our delicate inner ear structures.

Symptoms of ear wax:

Here are symptoms that may indicate a build-up of ear wax:

  • Hearing loss: Excessive ear wax can block sound waves from reaching the eardrum, resulting in temporary hearing loss.
  • Earache: If ear wax becomes impacted and puts pressure on the eardrum, it can cause discomfort or pain in the affected ear.
  • Tinnitus: Excessive ear wax can cause a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear.
  • The feeling of fullness in the ear: When there is too much ear wax, it may give a sensation of fullness or blockage in the affected ear.
  • Dizziness or vertigo:
  • Dizziness or vertigo: In rare cases, a build-up of ear wax can affect the balance and coordination in individuals, leading to dizziness or vertigo.
  • Trouble sleeping due to discomfort in the ear: Sometimes, the pain or discomfort caused by excessive ear wax can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Changes in ear wax color: If there is an infection or injury in the ear canal, the color of the ear wax may change to yellow, green, or brown. This could be a sign of a more serious condition and should be checked by a doctor.

Removal methods:

If you are experiencing symptoms of excessive ear wax, here are some safe and effective ways to remove it:

Ear drops: Over-the-counter ear drops can help soften the wax, making it easier to remove.

Microsuction: In this technique, a healthcare professional uses a specialized instrument to gently suction out the ear wax.

Manual removal: A healthcare professional may use a small tool, such as a curette, to manually remove ear wax from the ear canal.

Cotton swabs: Contrary to popular belief, using cotton swabs to remove ear wax can push it further into the ear canal and cause damage. It's best to avoid using them for this purpose.

Ear syringe (bulb syringe): Similar to ear irrigation, this method involves using a bulb syringe filled with warm water to flush out the wax.

Warm Water Irrigation: Another DIY method is to use warm water and a bulb syringe at home. However, this should be done with caution as it can potentially cause damage to the eardrum if not done correctly.


Ear wax may not be the most glamorous topic, but it plays a crucial role in protecting our ears and preserving our hearing. While excessive ear wax can cause discomfort and temporary hearing loss, it is generally easy to remove with various methods.

If you experience symptoms of excessive ear wax buildup, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any removal methods on your own. They can determine the best course of action and ensure that the removal is done safely without causing harm to your ears.

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