What is Earwax?

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What is Earwax?

Ear wax is made up of several components which are secreted from sweat glands, sebaceous, and ceruminous glands in the outer two thirds of the ear canal. The secretion of this often waxy, sticky discharge is known as earwax. It is made up of a combination of squamous and keratin which makes up 60% of its composition with the remainder of its components being alcohols cholesterols and fatty acids. You rarely find this type of secretion in the back of the ear canal unless it has been pushed back with a cotton bud, excessive use of drops, or a finger from experience.

The secretion of wax has a functional purpose namely to protect the ear from bacterial or fungal infections and it does this by maintaining a slightly acidic PH to reduce any bactericidal or fungicidal activity in the ear canal through its antimicrobial properties.

Ear wax also has a lubricating and moisturising effect in the ear canal, preventing the absorption of water in the ear canal due to its waxy sticky surface and therefore preventing microbial activity in the ear canal.

Ear wax also has a variance within the population in its colour and texture depending on the population.

  • Southeast Asian populations tend to have harder drier, flakier wax, some Southeast Asian populations present with dry stringy wax consisting of dead skin.
  • Most European populations present with wet sticky brown wax which tends to be the most common and dominant type of wax we encounter in clinic.

Should we be cleaning our ears out? Searching for Earwax Removal Birmingham?

It is not necessary for patients to try to clean their ears out. The human ear has a wonderful self-cleaning mechanism whereby wax naturally migrates out of the ear three or four times a year. Ear wax usually migrates out of the ear canal laterally and medially and is carried out of your ear by a natural migration of dead skin which sheds itself of the eardrum travels along the ear canal and drags the ear wax along with it to the front of the ear.

Why do our ears get blocked?

The diversity in the shape and size of ear canals means that some of the population present with narrow ear canals which tends to be more of an issue as you get older with a general breakdown in elastic and cartilaginous fibres in the first third of the ear canal. This narrowing of the ear canal then prevents ear wax from migrating out of the acoustic meatus, you will then find you are more prone to obstructive wax blockages. We find hearing aid users having the same issues due to the natural obstruction caused by a hearing aid component fitted in the canal.

Another reason patients present with blockages is they have used a foreign body to push the wax further down the ear canal. This often is caused by a cotton bud which causes both abrasion along the canal walls and disturbs the natural migration of wax out of the ear canal.

In the most acute cases we are often finding wax trapped in the bony canal in the back of the ear canal or on the eardrum. This often for us becomes a non-routine procedure which requires specialist intervention from our clinical leads who are ENT trained to remove wax of the eardrum itself. Most Earwax Removal Birmingham Audiologists or practitioners or High Street providers will not remove this type of earwax of the eardrum as it deemed as an acute case which required onward referral to ENT for extraction.

Symptoms of ear wax

  • Itchy ears
  • Reduction in hearing
  • Aural fullness, headaches, or jaw pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Pain (especially with tough abrasive wax)
  • Tickly cough loss of taste
  • Dizziness or imbalance

What do I do if I have a blockage

If you have tried proprietary drops from your GP and you have found it has not resolved the issue, then it is time to have it micro suctioned.

In our Earwax Removal Birmingham clinics we use surgical endoscopic cameras to gently vacate and suck out the wax from your ear canal. The procedure is quick, effective, and most importantly safe. Most patients usually find they are hearing within 10 minutes post procedure.

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