Our bodies are scientific marvels…that also produce tons of gross stuff through the process of just being alive. Think: belly button lint…boogers…and earwax, that weird material that can sometimes reduce your hearing & make you dig into your ear canal to get it out. So, what is this earwax stuff, really?
Medically, it’s known as cerumen. It originates in the glands inside your ear canal, and, for the most part, it’s genuinely good for you. It’s a protective surface liner, catches germs & dirt, keeps water away from your ear drum, and stops irritants from getting into your ear canal.
Most earwax tends to disperse over time, either getting washed away or falling out. Problems can arise, however, when your ear makes too much of the wax or it builds up over time, because wax can ultimately block your ear canal & muffle sounds. Most people suspect an earwax buildup problem whenever they experience hearing loss or their ear feels “full”.
(And FYI: the color of your earwax, which can range from yellow to light brown, actually has nothing to do with anything. It won’t tell you if you have problems developing.)
So, what can you do? When earwax is noticeable, try to soften it with mineral oil, over-the-counter earwax softeners, or irrigation, during which you would tilt your head & rinse out your ear with body temperature water (not cool water, that’ll make you dizzy.) If at-home treatments don’t work, get your doctor or nurse practitioner to take care of it for you.
And, just to confirm what we’ve all heard, sticking a Q-Tip down into your ear can do the opposite of what you want it to do; not only will it push the earwax in deeper, it could also injure your eardrum.
Earwax can be problematic, but it’s meant to be there & protects your body. Not so sure about the belly button lint, though…the jury’s still out on that stuff.
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