Archive for February 11th, 2014

Bodily functions and bodily fluids: The earwax post

February 11, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 11, 2014

Cerumen, old friend. We meet again.

I didn’t actually say that to myself last month when my doctor looked into my ears, but I may as well have. I certainly cringed internally.

Here’s a quick recap. I got sick in late January, and after trying to tough it out for a few days, I made an appointment to see my physician. After checking both ears with that funny pointed scope that doctors use, she told me that there was some wax buildup in both my ear canals, especially the left one, which needed a cleaning.

I’ve been told this kind of thing many times over the years. The human body naturally produces wax, technically known as cerumen; it traps dirt and protects the eardrums, in part by slowing the growth of bacteria in the ear canals. If everything is working smoothly, older wax will migrate to the outer ear, dry up, harden and fall out.

Unfortunately, sometimes wax builds up without coming out. Earwax accumulation can cause discomfort and occlude hearing.

I didn’t immediately follow up on my doctor’s suggestion to clean my ear. After a few days, though, I was feeling better — more energetic and ready to tackle challenges, and also better prepared to handle disappointments.

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