Otolaryngology is a specialty focusing on a wide range of problems in the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck. Otolaryngologists can treat a variety of medical problems, including obstructed airways, head and neck cancers, chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, vertigo, structural abnormalities with the ears, nose, and throat, as well as many other issues.
Earwax, otherwise known medically as cerumen, is found in the ear canals of all humans and other mammals. It is a colored substance secreted within the ear canals via normal human bodily processes. Earwax serves many purposes, it protects the skin of the ear canal, helps clean and lubricate the canals, and provides protection against bacteria, fungus, and other substances. However, earwax should be removed when it causes hearing loss, itching, pain, tinnitus, or an obstructed assessment of the auditory canal, eardrum, or audio-vestibular system.
Here are a few fun facts about ear wax:
- Earwax can be all different colors ranging from brown, orange, red, yellow, or gray.
- Earwax comes in different forms, wet and dry. The type of earwax each person has is dependent on genetics, which helps anthropologists track the migration of different cultures.
- Earwax is naturally expelled from the ear canal due to a self-cleaning mechanism assisted by movements of the mouth and jaw.
- Earwax is not actually wax. It consists of dead skin cells and secretions from the ceruminous and sebaceous glands located in the ear canals.
- The organic composition of earwax consists of fatty acids, squalene, alcohols, and cholesterol mixed with dead skin cells.
- Earwax is naturally microbial and prevents the start of bacterial infections.
- Earwax is a natural bug repellent, keeping bugs away from wanting to go into the ear canals.
- Earwax helps keeps the ear canals clean. Dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria get stuck in earwax. As the earwax moves out of the ear canal, so does all the collected dirt and debris.
- Earwax acts as a natural lubricant. The smooth texture keeps our ears lubricated to prevent itchiness and dryness.
- Earwax can cause hearing loss when a build up occurs. It can also cause symptoms such as dizziness, fullness, earaches, and tinnitus. Its important if your experience any of these symptoms to see your otolaryngologist immediately!