It turns out that your mother was right, as usual. When it comes to ear wax, the best thing you can do is leave it alone. Ear wax is beneficial and self-cleaning!
Many people feel that they need to remove ear wax in order to "clean" their ears, but that is usually a mistake since it is actually protective of the delicate inner ear tissues, due to it's lubricating and antibacterial properties. Ear wax is known medically as cerumen, and it is composed of a mixture of waxy secretions, hair and dead skin from the ear canal. The mere presence of visible ear wax does not require any removal or treatment if the ears are functioning well without a problem. The most common method to "clean" the ears used by many people is a cotton swab, which can actually drive excess wax in further into the ear canal, so that it blocks the ear and then medical attention is needed to remove it. In addition, the soft cotton is actually harsh and abrasive to the delicate ear tissues.
Certain people do need to pay more attention to their ear wax status. For example, those who wear a hearing aid are much more likely to develop problems with ear wax because the hearing aid interferes with the normal process of the ear slowly moving the wax out of the canal, cleaning out excess ear wax naturally.For this reason, hearing aid wearers should consider getting their ears cleaned once or twice a year by a health-care professional to avoid wax buildup, which can cause hearing aid feedback or even damage the device.
As people age, ear wax problems are more common. Those over age 65 years of age are more likely to have problems than younger people, due to wax that is often thicker, and more ear hair. When ear wax blocks 80 percent or more of the ear canal diameter, it can result in reversible hearing loss, which often brings people to the doctor for a check.
About 12 million people in the United States are seen each year for impacted ear wax. You can reduce your chance of being one of them by leaving your ear wax alone. As Mom often said, don't put anything bigger than your elbow in your ear!