hearing aids and an otoscope on top of hearing charts

Q: Why Do We Have Earwax?

It might seem icky, but earwax plays an important role in ear health. Also called “cerumen,” earwax results from secretions by the ceruminous glands in the outer ear canal. The secretions help lubricate the canal and maintain an acidic environment to stem harmful bacteria and fungi.

Earwax not only helps keep the ear canal clean but can stop dirt and other debris from reaching and potentially damaging the eardrum. In addition, it can help reduce the risk of itchiness or dryness in the ears.

Normally you needn’t remove earwax; your ears will naturally push out the excess. But sometimes the glands may generate more than the ear can get rid of, and blockage can occur. Those who use hearing aids or earplugs or push objects such as cotton swabs into the ears may be more prone to this.

Excess earwax buildup could lead to one or more symptoms such as:

  • Itch, odor, or drainage
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Sensation of fullness in the ear
  • Ringing in the ears or tinnitus
  • Pain in the ear
  • Vertigo, dizziness, or balance problem

When excess buildup leads to pain or other symptoms such as hearing loss, tinnitus, or dizziness, it’s time to clean it out. Our licensed audiologists can examine your ears, determine the specific nature of the problem, personalize the most appropriate solution, and help you safely manage earwax!