Physiological role of ear wax
Ear wax is a yellowish-brown smear-like secretion of glands in the skin of the ear canal. Its function is to protect the eardrum against mechanical damage and to clean the interior of the ear canal of fine particles such as dust. Under physiological conditions the wax in the ear canal slowly dries out and is excreted as small lumps. In some people, the earwax accumulates in excess, causing it to build up, resulting in impaired hearing.
Consequences of excess ear wax
Excessive wax production or lack of hygiene can result in the formation of a so-called wax plug, which blocks the ear canal and impedes the transmission of sound waves deep into the ear. This build-up of ear wax leads to hearing impairment, tinnitus, and over time, even inflammation. Often people become accustomed to hearing less and pay no attention to it. However, the plug tends to swell when exposed to water (e.g. in a swimming pool or while shampooing), and as it swells it cuts off sound, causing an unpleasant sensation of deafness, which will pass after some time.
Removing excess earwax in the ear
The first way is to spritz the ear before bed with over-the-counter drops and then place a piece of cotton wool shallowly in the ear. Hearing may temporarily worsen due to the swelling of the ear wax. In the morning, the cotton wool should be browned by the dissolving earwax. These steps should be repeated until the ear wax is completely removed.
A second, quicker way is to rinse out the wax at the ENT office. If you are prone to excessive ear wax secretion, it is a good idea to sprinkle your ears with ear wax prophylactically before going to bed with preparations available at the drugstore.