What is ear wax?
Created by the glands, cerumen (ear wax) is produced in the outer two thirds of the ear canal. It’s function is to collect dead skin, dust, prevent bacterial growth, maintain humidity, temperature and lubricate the canal.There is a natural mechanism of wax self-elimination: Migration of the skin lining the ear canal from the centre of the ear drum to the outer ear concha (bowl). This movement encourages the wax to move along with it together with the debris it has collected.
What can cause an earwax build-up?
Some people regularly get blocked ears because they naturally produce a lot of earwax.
Other factors that can increase the risk of too much earwax include:
- producing naturally hard or dry earwax
- having narrow or hairy ear canals (the tube between the opening of the ear and the eardrum)
- being elderly, as earwax becomes drier with age
- bony growths in the outer part of the ear canal
Earwax can also block your ear if you frequently insert objects into your ear canal, such as cotton buds, paper clips, ear plugs or hearing aids.