Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: What causes increased ear wax? ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: What causes increased ear wax?
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: zzuluz-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 14 Oct 2006 14:14 PDT
Expires: 13 Nov 2006 13:14 PST
Question ID: 773480
What causes increased ear wax? 

I'm specifically curious about whether infections (if so, which ones)
cause increased ear wax? If so, what function would the ear wax serve?
I've noticed increased ear wax when I'm sick so I'm just looking to
understand why this might happen. Or is it dust?
Subject: Re: What causes increased ear wax?
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 14 Oct 2006 14:59 PDT
Hello zzuluz, and thanks for the interesting question!


?Ear wax is a sticky liquid secreted by cerumen glands. It isn't
really wax in the 'candle wax' sense (paraffin). Skin contains many
tiny glands whose sole purpose is to secrete a variety of substances.
Sebaceous glands, for example, secrete sebum, which gives skin its
greasy quality...Cerumen glands are found only in the skin of the ear
canals.? (Ear Wax FAQ: ) Ear wax
also has ?other components such as dead skin, sweat, and oil. The
primary component of ear wax is keratin (derived from dead skin).?
(Ear Wax Defined:


The amount of ear wax that's normal varies considerably from person to
person. ?There are two types described, wet and dry, which are
inherited. Dry wax is common in Asia, while wet wax is common in
western Europe. Dry wax, also known as ?rice-bran wax,? contains by
weight about 20% lipid (fat). Oddly enough, rice-bran wax is
associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer. Wet wax consists
of approximately 50% lipid...Wet wax can be either soft or hard, the
hard wax being more likely to be impacted...Too little ear wax
increases the risk of infection...Too much wax also increases the
incidence of infection and hearing loss. So, you want just enough.?
(Ear Wax Defined)


?While some folks have problems with ear wax throughout their lives,
many people develop ?problem wax? suddenly, without any obvious
explanation. Similarly, a person may have wax problems with one ear
and not the other. Ear surgery can occasionally result in the new
onset of ear wax problems. Usually, there is no answer to the
question, ?why is this happening now??? (Ear Wax FAQ)
?Ear wax may accumulate in the ear canal for a variety of reasons,
including narrowing of the ear canal resulting from infections or
diseases of the skin, bones, or connective tissue; production of a
less fluid form of cerumen (more common in older persons due to aging
of the glands that produce ear wax); or overproduction of cerumen in
response to trauma or blockage within the ear canal.? (Ear Wax: )

So, it appears that sickness or illness does not cause increased ear
wax, but that increased ear wax is a result of infection.

I hope this fully answers your question.

Kind regards,
Ear wax
Excess ear wax
Subject: Re: What causes increased ear wax?
From: stanmartin1952-ga on 14 Oct 2006 17:16 PDT
An inner ear infection probably wouldn't affect the outer ear's
production of ear wax. When I was 18 and wrestling in phys-ed,
suddenly I lost hearing in one ear and noticed that I could loudly
hear myself rubbing my cheek. The doctor noticed that my eardrum was
impacted with wax. He used a water nozzle to clean it out. For about
20 years, I had to see the doctor every few years for wax removal.
Also around this time, I tried putting olive oil and also a product
called Cerumenex in my ears, but they just seem to make a mess. Since
then I've found that if I use a q-tip (the real ones) on each ear
canal (be very careful when you are close to the eardrum) after every
shower, I can keep on top of the wax so it never gets to be a problem.
I know of a lady who cleaned her ears with a rat-tail comb. One day
she walked into a door jamb and took out her eardrum.
Subject: Re: What causes increased ear wax?
From: markvmd-ga on 14 Oct 2006 19:53 PDT
My cardiologist said diets high in fats can lead to increased ear wax production.
Subject: Re: What causes increased ear wax?
From: frde-ga on 15 Oct 2006 01:57 PDT
A bent paper clip is a bit better than a q-tip as it has less of a
pounding action. Straighten entirely, then bend in the middle, not
unlike the spoons the Romans used to use.

It always amuses me how q-tips have a warning 'Do not insert in ear'
on the packet - having limited imagination I cannot conceive of other
uses for them.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy