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"Why do I have so much ear wax?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have so much ear wax?


I seem to have a ton of ear wax. Way more than other people. Always having to clean out my ears and have the doctor suck out chunks of wax. How can I make my body produce less ear wax or is there a condition that makes someone like me produce so much wax?


As you probably are already aware, cerumen (more commonly referred to as "ear wax") is a normal physiologic substance within the ear canal, and is actually necessary for a healthy and well functioning ear. It is only made in the outer 1/3 of the ear canal where there are both apocrine (modified sweat glands), and sebaceous glands. They secrete both liquid and fatty substances (fatty chains) that mix with the shedding keratinizing squamous epithelium to make cerumen. Since cerumen is only made in the outer third of the ear canal, physiologically it does not cause any problems with hearing, rather it actually has some antibiotic properties, and helps prevent foreign bodies from going deeper into the ear and damaging the tympanic membrane (ear drum). Thus it is only when the wax is pushed deeper into the ear canal that it causes problems. This is the reason that ENT physicians are constantly recommending to their patients NOT to use Q-tips to clean their ears. More often than not, some of the wax is pushed deeper into the ear canal and this can eventually build up on the tympanic membrane and cause pain, and hearing problems. There is likely nothing that you are doing that is making you produce more cerumen then the average person (if you even are). Some people just produce more than others. Different ENT physicians may suggest different maintenance therapies (such as a drop of mineral oil every other day or so) to help prevent the drying of the ear wax, and thereby helping it come out normally easier. I would recommend that if you are not already being followed by an ENT, that you make an appointment and have your ears checked out, and get their opinion on your situation. Best of luck.

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