What is Ear Wax and Why Do We Have It? | AIB
The wax is synthesized in the external auditory canal by specialized glands in the area. As a general rule, its composition includes oils, but keratinocytes also form it. It is dead epithelial cells. They may also contain other chemicals.
What is wax or wax for?
On the other hand, these glands add to the wax certain peptides (amino acids) and lysozyme (a highly specialized enzyme or protein). Both compounds have an antibacterial character, that is, they prevent the growth or development of possible infections of bacterial origin that could damage the skin that forms the inside of the ear canal.
Also, the wax or cerumen serves as protection for the eardrum in front of the outside world. In this way, it can block dust, foreign agents, and dirt that have entered this duct.
In addition to its antibacterial function, it also prevents the invasion of fungi inside our ears. Its smell is especially annoying to insects, which otherwise could enter this cavity. Due to its greasy texture fulfills a function as a lubricant, preventing our skin from drying out and even cracking.
Little by little, unusual cells inside the external auditory canal push or drag the wax or cerumen outdoors. Finally, this compound together with all foreign bodies is expelled to the external environment through the ear.
This task is often completed with traditional washing, but other types of movement also help. For example, the activities that involve the lower jaw (talking, eating, drinking, etc.) Without this important natural movement, the dead cells of this area would accumulate, producing severe consequences.
Formation of wax plugs
However, sometimes the wax or cerumen may become hardened in the outer part of our auditory canal. It has now been discovered that specific factors or habits may favor its appearance. For example, the use of hearing aids or other hearing devices, the use of swabs or the excess washing of the area.
On the other hand, certain people have a natural overproduction of wax that has a genetic character. Currently, the causes of this alteration are unknown.
Symptoms of the formation of wax plugs
Patients usually suffer from a series of signs or disorders that may be related to this condition. Among the most common symptoms we can highlight:
- Pain in the ears: These are discomforts of a low intensity and are located inside the ear, where the accumulation of cerumen has occurred.
- Autophony: It refers to the situation where the patient is able to hear their own voice internally.
- A sensation of fullness or blockage in the ear.
- Buzzing or annoying noises in the ear. They are also called tinnitus or tinnitus. In the most severe clinical cases, the subjects may suffer dizziness or vertigo due to them.
- Partial loss of hearing that may get worse over time. It is the most characteristic symptoms of this disorder.
Fever that can vary in its severity.
Treatment against wax plugs
The most effective treatment is the extraction of the plug. It is necessary to do it with care and properly lubricate the external auditory canal to avoid damaging the walls of the ear.
The patient will immediately notice an improvement, in some cases of hearing loss (conduction deafness), it can be completely reversed with the removal of the plug. Also, you will no longer notice a pressure in the ear canal and will perceive the sounds more clearly.
Prevention of the development of wax plugs
The most effective measure in preventing the formation of plugs is to maintain correct hygiene of the ears. The use of swabs favors the formation of plugs, so they are not recommended. It is better to use sprays that degrade cerumen without exerting pressure on the external auditory canal.
We must never forget to perform a complete wash that includes the cleaning of the auricular cartilage, in this way our ears will remain free of impurities.