Ear wax is a normal product of the ear which protects the skin of the ear from water
and infection. Ear wax is formed from wax glands in the external ear canal as well as
other components such as dead skin, sweat, and oil. The primary component of ear wax
is keratin (derived from dead skin). Ear wax thus differs slightly from cerumen which
is the secretory product of the ceruminous glands in the external auditory canal (Hawke, 2002).
What can go wrong with ear wax?
1. Wax can plug up the ear, causing hearing to be reduced, and a full feeling in the ear. This is
called an "impaction". About 2-6% of the population has an ear wax impaction at any time.
2. Wax can trap bacteria in the ear, leading to infection. This is usually painful or at least itchy.
3. Ear wax can obscure vision when the doctor looks in your ears, possibly hiding a dangerous process.
4. Ear wax is the most common cause of hearing aid malfunction.
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