What's the Point of Earwax?
Earwax, that yellowish-brown substance produced by the glands of the external ear, may conjure the ick factor for many people, but it actually serves a pretty important purpose. Learn what it’s there for, how to manage it, and what to do if it becomes a problem.
Why Is Earwax in Your Ear?
Earwax — also called “cerumen” — results from secretions by the ceruminous glands in the outer ear canal. The secretions help lubricate the ear canal and help maintain an acidic environment that curbs development of harmful bacteria and fungi.
Movements of the lower jaw — speaking or chewing, for example — continually move the earwax toward the outer ear canal, helping cleanse the ear and push out excess wax.
Life without earwax would be a lot less comfortable; it not only helps keep the canal clean but prevents dirt and other debris from reaching and potentially damaging the eardrum. In addition, earwax can help keep ears from feeling itchy and dry.
Earwax levels vary considerably from one person to the next. The typical amount produced can vary by age or gender as well as other factors.