The gluey substance that aids in preventing the entry of bacteria into the ear canal is the ear wax and it has its characteristic mild odor. Ear wax with an unusual or foul odor can indicate a problem that tends to vary in severity from a mild buildup of wax to a potentially severe case of a ruptured eardrum. It is important to learn what smelly earwax indicates including the possible causes as well as the accompanying symptoms and the ideal course of action to take.
Take note that earwax is responsible for moisturizing the sensitive lining of skin in the ear canals while at the same time protecting the ears from foreign objects and bacteria. The special glands located in the outer part of the ear canal produces the waxy material which combines with the skin cells and sweat to produce earwax. The earwax can be wet or dry and tends to vary in color from dark brown, black, yellow and orange depending on certain factors such as the age, race and overall health.
What are the causes of smelly earwax?
If an individual has smelly earwax, it can be due to various causes including compacted earwax, ear infections and a ruptured eardrum. In some cases, an external ear infection or swimmer’s ear can occur if water is trapped in the ear canal, thus leading to a bacterial infection. As for compacted earwax, it can occur regardless of the age but usually occurs among the elderly and special needs individuals. An individual who has a ruptured eardrum can likely develop after a middle ear infection or it can occur due to a head injury, exposure to loud noises or sudden changes in the air pressure. When it comes to ear conditions, you should be familiar with the appropriate first aid measures to perform. This is possible by enrolling in a first aid course in Mississauga today.
What are the symptoms of smelly earwax?
The symptoms that usually occur with smelly earwax can help determine the cause of the odor. Take note that the ear pain that worsens when the individual tugs in a gentle manner on the outer part of the ear can indicate an external ear infection. As for pain that steadily increases in severity and then abruptly stops without warning often occur if eardrum is ruptured, particularly in children. The other indications that can manifest with malodorous earwax include blood-streaked or pus-colored discharge from the ear, ringing in the ears, earache and partial loss of hearing.
Diagnosing a smelly earwax
In most cases, smelly earwax would require assessment by a doctor. The doctor will ask questions regarding the symptoms and medical history. An otoscope will be used to visualize the ear canal and eardrum. If the eardrum cannot be checked, the doctor will utilize specialized tools and even a microscope to remove the earwax manually that blocks the ear canal.
The treatment for smelly earwax depends on the cause of the foul-smelling earwax but it usually includes topical eardrops and antibiotics. In some cases, the doctor might refer the individual to an otolaryngologist.