Remember that scene from Shrek when he pulls a whole earwax candle our of his ear? Yeah, I’m glad humans don’t work like that. But where does the yellow stuff come from? and is it actually helpful, or just annoying?
As it turns out, earwax, also called cerumen, is a mixture of sloughed off skin cells and fluids (including saturated and unsaturated fats) from the cerumenous glands that are located in the outer ear canal. This mixture helps protect against dust, pathogens, or other particles getting in your ear and possibly getting you sick, much like the mucus and hairs in your nose, saliva in your mouth, and tears and eyelashes around your eyes.
Another amazing thing about earwax is that is it self-cleaning. Our ears, nose, and throat are all interconnected, have you ever heard of an Ears-Nose-and-Throat Doctor? Its not such a strange combination after all! When we move our jaw when talking or eating, the movement causes the earwax to be pushed slowly from where it is formed in the ear towards the outer ear (called the pinna or external auditory meatus), where it can exit the ear. However, earwax buildup and blockage can happen. We should never put cotton-swabs or any other objects in our ears though, because they can push earwax deeper into the ear canal causing physical damage and possible hearing loss. See the links below for easy to follow steps on how to safely clean our your ears.
To learn more about earwax, check out: