How cerumen plugs are formed
Ear cerumen is produced by the ceruminous glands and has important physiological functions: it cleans the auditory passage from a detached superficial skin layer, moisturizes the skin of the external auditory canal and protects ear canals from foreign matter. Normally, ear canals follow the self-cleaning pattern: cerumen is pushed to the ear orifice during chewing, talking and yawning. But if the ceruminous glands produce too much ear discharge, if the self-cleaning process is disrupted due to anatomic features of our ears or due to incorrect ear care, an ear plug may form.
How cerumen plugs appear
An ear plug is a substance containing earwax, sebaceous gland discharges and superficial skin particles. Depending on the size, a plug may partially or completely block the auditory canal. Usually an ear plug manifests itself when water gets into the ear. It swells up and blocks the auditory canal, thus causing abrupt impairment of hearing, ringing and buzzing in the ears. If the ear plug is close to the ear-drum, its swelling may cause pain in the ear, dizziness, nausea and headache.
What to do about an ear plug
Doctors recommend not trying to remove an ear plug at home; so, if you face such a problem, you'd better visit an otolaryngologist.
Cerumen plugs and ear care
Foreign matter getting into the auditory canal activate the ceruminous gland. That is why otolaryngologists recommend not using cotton buds for ear care: they compact earwax and push it deeper into the ear. The result of such systematic procedures will be ear plugs. Moreover, a cotton bud may lead to micro-damage of the delicate skin in the auditory canal, thus providing conditions for infections and inflammation; in some cases it may cause ear-drum damage. As the self-cleaning mechanism of the external ear is a natural process, for proper care and to avoid the need for ear plug removal, all you have to do is to keep your outer auditory canal and earflap clean using efficient and safe methods.