Ear Wax – Why it’s a Good Thing

Put down that Q-Tip! Ear wax can be a protective health benefit.

Put down that Q-Tip! Ear wax can be a protective health benefit.

Ear wax isn’t exactly the most pleasant of conversational topics. Yet it’s one of the body’s most amazing self-protection mechanisms. Yes – as “gross” as it may seem, ear wax is highly beneficial to your auditory health.

Much like eyelashes and nose hair, ear wax helps protect your body from would-be invaders. It bars dust, bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms from entering your body via your ear canal. Otherwise, these intruders could irritate or inflame skin, or even cause an infection. But it does more than just block intruders. There’s evidence that cerumen (ear wax’s technical name) also contains lysozyme, an antibacterial enzyme that can destroy bacterial cell walls.

Earwax also acts as a lubricant that keeps you’re the inside of your ears from drying out and itching. And, it’s largely self-cleaning. Movement of the jaw while chewing or talking helps to keep earwax on the move, gradually traveling from the eardrum to the ear’s opening. There, it can dry up and flake off or fall out all on its own – no Q-Tip is ever necessary.

Of course, there are times that wax can prove harmful if it builds up and impacts inside the ear. Results can include earaches, dizziness, vertigo, swelling of the ear canal, perforation of the tympanic membrane (commonly known as the eardrum) and even hearing loss.

If you’re suffering from a buildup of excessive earwax, do not to remove it on your own. Medications can be prescribed, or earwax can be safely removed by a specialist at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat. Call 904-461-6060 to schedule an appointment.