Earwax (term: cerumen or cerumen ) is a yellowish-brownish, greasy, bitter secretion, which originates from the glands of the external auditory canal. These glands are modified sweat glands and are also called glandula ceruminosae or apocrine tubular glands. They exist in all mammals and serve to clean the ear canal. From them a moist secretion is secreted, which absorbs dust, dirt, dead skin cells, etc. and thus facilitates the removal, also contains substances such as fats and, for example, the lysozyme. These substances keep the ear canal supple and preserve its acid milieu, which serves to ward off bacteria, fungi and insects.
If the contaminants in the ear are bound in the secretion, the cilia (cilia) in the ear canal can more easily remove the mixture by their outward movement. Despite its not very appetizing manifestation, the earwax is therefore not only to be regarded as an unaesthetic evil, but fulfills a not unimportant function. If this protective function is eliminated by excessive removal during personal hygiene or frequent swimming, this can lead to earache and inflammation.
In humans, there are two genetically-induced forms of earwax, the most common, moist form, which occurs in about 97% of all Europeans, and the dry form, which occurs in only about 3% of Europeans.
In some people it comes to the overfunction of the pancreas. This is regularly accompanied by the obstruction of the ear canal, which is perceived as unpleasant, it forms a so-called Ceruminalpfropf. Depending on its size and consistency, it can " clump " back and forth or clog the ear canal as a result of manipulation or pronounced size, which leads to a temporary hearing impairment. Patients are recommended to visit the ENT specialist at intervals of approximately 3 months. He can then extract the plug with various techniques, he usually does this either by suction, wherein the plug is sucked in and removed by means of a thin tube, by pulling out with a small hook or by rinsing with body-warm water.
If you want to save the visit to the ENT doctor, there are also methods to remove the earwax professionally at home. However, care should be taken not to do this too often, thus undermining its protective function and consulting the ENT specialist for pain and / or inflammation.
The most well-known method is at the same time the one most strongly discouraged: Removing with cotton swabs or Q-tips. In this case, the hard inner core of the cotton buds can cause injuries to the external auditory canal and irritation or even damage to the sensitive eardrum, which separates the external and internal auditory meatus. In addition, there is a risk that already existing Ceruminalpfropfen moves towards the eardrum or are attached to this, resulting in a temporary deafness, since the passage of the acoustic signals is now difficult.
The easiest way to do this is to rinse off excess earwax while showering. Here, the water should be heated to body temperature to avoid dizziness or nausea. These reactions may be due to irritation of an auditory canal nerve with cold fluid followed by irritation of the organ of balance. The warm water can now slowly flow into the ear canal by gently bending the head to the side. It should be pure water without soap or shampoo, otherwise the function of the glands may be impaired. After showering, the ear should be carefully spotted dry with a towel or piece of paper.
The earwax can also be removed with heated almond or olive oil using the same principle. The oil should be heated again to body temperature, for example, by briefly warming up in the hand. Now carefully pour 3 to 4 drops of oil into the ear while tilting the head. The oil softens the hardened earwax and makes loosening easier. Following the application of the oil is now still washing with water. This should also be warmed up to body temperature and can then be carefully placed in the affected ear with a small syringe and then dab the ear carefully with a towel or paper dry. To soften the occlusive Ceruminalpfropfes there are also specially prepared drugs in spray form, the so-called Cerumenolytika. These are applied from the outside into the ear canal, followed by the same procedure as softening by oils and water.