Ear Care Guide: When is Ear Wax Too Much?

doctor examining an ear using a tool

Ear wax is important for your ear health. Our body has a way of cleaning and protecting itself and ear wax is one of them. Ear wax consists of 50 percent or less fat. Alongside the inner tiny hairs, it helps at lubricating the ear canal, fighting off infection, and keeping many kinds of debris out. When you don’t produce enough ear wax or cerumen, your ears may be more prone to becoming infected, itchy, or dry.

People around the world have different kinds of earwax ranging from light or dark colors to either wet or dry. African and Caucasian people usually have wet, sticky, and dark yellow ear wax. East Asian or Native American people on the other hand typically have dry, flaky, and light ear wax.

When is ear wax too much?

Ear wax may be an important part of health but just like any good thing, too much of it can mean harm. After it has done its job, your ear wax then flows to the opening of your ear where it’s supposed to dry and fall. However, in abnormal cases, it may accumulate in the air canal. When this happens, you may get pain, plugged or full feeling in the ear, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, itching, coughing, discharge from the ear, ear odor and infection, and worse, loss of hearing.

You’re more at risk of excessive earwax, especially if you have the following conditions:

Stressed lifestyles

When you’re under much stress and anxiety, your ears produce more ear wax. This is because ear wax and sweat are both produced from the same apocrine glands. Especially if you have more hairs in your ear canal, it’s a perfect recipe for excessive ear wax production.

Have persistent ear infections

Otitis media or middle ear infection is the most common type of ear infection. This happens when viruses or bacteria get behind the eardrum, in the middle ear. Chronic infections as this can cause excessive ear wax discharge.


As we get older, our ear wax gets drier, making it more difficult for our ears to clean themselves efficiently than before. This causes fluid build-up in the ear canal which can then form a blockage.

Ear canal deformation

Most of the time, ear deformities are congenital. Sometimes, it may be because you’re trying to remove the ear wax by yourself and in improper ways. Your ear canal and eardrum are delicate and thus are more vulnerable to being damaged from improper handling.

W@hat are habits that result in excessive fluid buildup?

a picture of an ear

Oftentimes, your excessive ear wax production may be due to your habits, such as the following:

Heavy earbuds and headphones use

This is called contact stimulus. The more external objects rub the ear, the more your ears will try to protect themselves from infection or irritation. If not hearing aids, then you may limit your use of other ear devices. If you can’t reduce your usage, just make sure they’re cleaned and disinfected before being used.

Exposure to debris

The dirtier your workplace or surroundings are, the darker your ear wax gets. The same goes for the amount of ear wax produced. Your ears create more ear wax when you’re more exposed to huge amounts of irritants and debris from the environment. A common example is during the seasonal high pollen production. Turns out those pollens don’t just affect your nose but also your ears. The best you can do in this case is to protect your ears from the irritants like wearing ear protection or hat.

Improper ways of cleaning

You don’t have to clean your ears daily as it can leave your skin dry and irritated. Inserting objects in your ears only irritates them, hence triggering more wax build-up.

But when should you leave ear wax alone?

In normal cases, our ears do a pretty good job of cleaning themselves, but when the ear wax doesn’t dry and fall on its own, it’s usually then that we need urgent care. If your ears are doing good, then you might as well just leave them be. Remember that having ear wax doesn’t necessarily mean poor hygiene.

We usually forget about our ear wax until our ears produce plenty of it. Some of us may get so conscious about it that we feel compelled to remove it every day in any way and suffer from the consequences of improper ways of cleaning. Do you also feel like wanting to get rid of your ear wax daily? If you haven’t known yet, your ear wax is there for a good purpose.

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