Human ear is indeed nature’s most beautiful work of craftsmanship which no mortal creature is able to build. It is intricately crafted to serve many purposes at the same time. Hearing is the main function besides maintaining equilibrium of body.
The ear that you see from outside is not the only structure. On the inner side there is a long canal shaped tube which is attached to the middle and inner ear. The lining of ear canal secretes a sticky substance called ear wax or cerumen. It helps to protect the ear from invading germs and wastes that may go into the ear.It also preserves safe hearing by lubricating the lining of ear canal.
This waxy substance normally has typical mild odor. However, when the odor from the ear wax is extremely smelly and foul, it may be an indication of potential ear problem. Let us know the causes of smelly earwax and the ways to get rid of it.
What Causes Smelly Ear Wax?
The outer one third lining of ear canal has ceruminous glands which produce waxy material. It then mixes with sebum produced by sebaceous glands. The skin cells from the lining and the slough off from ear drum mixes together to form more solid consistent substance called ear wax.
Most of us consider ear wax to be useless secretion, but it has host of functions such as trapping the debris which enter the ear canal, preventing bacteria and fungus, lubricating the lining of ear canal, and repelling entering insects in the ear. Ear wax can be wet or dry, and brown or black in color.
Normally the ear wax is slightly smelly and bitter. It is because of the chemical composition and dead bacteria and debris which get entrapped in the canal. The smell prevents insects from entering inside the ear. However, sometimes there is strong odor emitted from ear wax.This is unusual and an indication of an underlying pathology.
Smelly ear wax can be due to various reasons such as an infection in the ear. It may be a bacterial infection or a fungal infection. Infection in external ear is common among swimmers. Ear drum perforation is another reason for smelly ear. Ear wax can be extremely smelly with impacted wax. Largely, the dead bacteria and the stuck debris are responsible for smelly cerumen.
How To Get Rid Of Smelly Ear Wax?
In majority of cases smelly ear wax is accompanied with symptoms of underlying cause. Ear pain and tenderness on slightest touch indicates infection in the ear canal. Pain which is sudden and severe and disappearing abruptly may be an indication of ear drum perforation. The other associated symptoms are pus discharge, blood tinged wax, and ringing noises in the ear.
If you experience smelly ear wax, it is essential to visit your doctor. You should never try to remove the wax on your own as it may aggravate the condition. Your primary health care practitioner will examine the ear with a special instrument called otoscope.
He removes the wax from ear with special instrument meant for it. In some cases where the wax is dry and impacted he may recommend wax dissolving drops for few days. Once the wax becomes soft he removes it. Depending on the underlying cause he may also recommend oral antibiotics and ear drops.
Once the bad odor stops from earwax, the next step is to prevent its recurrence. You have to clean your ear regularly thereafter to avoid accumulation of dirt and sweat in the ear canal.