What Causes Ear Wax Build Up?


Ear wax is an important part of your body's protection against foreign particles. Without ear wax, your sensitive inner ear and all its parts would be open to invasion by bacteria, insects, dust and other allergens. However, ear wax can become a problem when there is an excessive build up of it inside your ears.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

How it's Made

Ear wax is made cerumen glands. These glands are located in many areas across your ear canal and, on a consistent basis, produce the sticky substance we know as ear wax. The wax is produced in the ear canal where it traps any foreign particles. Once the ear wax gets full, it dries up and pushes its way to the outer ear. Here it either falls out on its own or is cleaned out manually with a cotton swab or other ear-cleaning product.

Manual Buildup

The most common cause of ear wax build up actually comes from you trying to remove it from your ears. Cotton swabs, fingers and anything else that is stuck in the ear with the purpose of removing ear wax can just as easily cause the ear wax to get stuck. As the ear wax continues to dry in the ear canal, it creates a plug. Sometimes this plug can be removed by placing a heating bottle or pad on the ear to melt the wax. However, in severe cases, a doctor may have to remove the build up for you.

Twisted Ear Canal

Another less common cause of earwax buildup is a health problem called a twisted ear canal. In this disorder, the inner ear canal has a slight curve in it. This curve causes ear wax to get caught easily in the inner ear, causing frequent blockages.