Find Out Which Foods That Cause Ear Wax Buildup


Ear wax, known medically as cerumen, is a naturally occurring substance produced by glands in the ear canal. Ear wax plays an important protective role in the ear, sealing out dirt, bacteria, and water. However, an excess buildup of ear wax can sometimes occur, especially if you eat certain foods regularly.

This article will examine foods that cause ear wax to accumulate, looking at why these foods have this effect. We’ll also explore whether ear wax can cause symptoms like vertigo and dizziness, as well as suggest foods to avoid when trying to unclog blocked ears.

Why Do Certain Foods Promote Ear Wax Buildup? Check it out!

Foods That Cause Ear Wax

The outer third of the ear canal contains special glands called ceruminous glands. These glands continually produce ear wax, also known as cerumen. Ear wax is not simply discarded material or bodily waste. It coats the ear canal, protecting the eardrum from damage and infection. Ear wax also has antibacterial properties and contains chemicals that prevent insect eggs and larvae from developing inside the ear. So some ear wax is quite healthy and necessary.

However, problems arise when too much ear wax accumulates, hardens, and presses against the eardrum. This can muffle sounds, and cause earaches, vertigo, and coughing fits as the body tries to expel the blocked wax. Foods play a major role in regulating ceruminous gland secretion activity.

Test-tube studies demonstrate that isolated ear wax gland cells increase their output of secretory vesicles (tiny packages of ear wax) in response to cholesterol and saturated fats. This makes sense when we consider that foods like butter, cheese, shrimp, and beef all contain significant levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.

Our modern Western diet is full of saturated animal fats, dairy products, and cholesterol-rich animal proteins. When we regularly eat foods that cause ear wax buildup, the ceruminous glands work overtime. The waxy secretions aggregate in the ear canal much faster than the body can push them out via the canal’s self-cleaning process. This sets the stage for impaction and blockage over months or years of eating high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.

What Foods Cause Ear Wax Buildup?

Ear wax production is influenced by the types of foods we eat regularly. Foods that are high in cholesterol can increase wax production in the ear canal. Here are some foods to avoid with clogged ears:

  • Butter and Ghee - Loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol. Key contributors to ear wax overproduction.
  • Cheese - High in saturated fat and cholesterol. A prime food offender for increased cerumen secretion.
  • Red Meat - Beef, pork, and lamb serve up lots of cholesterol and saturated fat that boosts ear wax output.
  • Eggs - The yellow yolks of eggs are concentrated sources of cholesterol, which cues more wax generation.
  • Shellfish - Shrimp, lobster, crab, and scallops are very high in cholesterol, thus foods that cause ear wax.
  • Fried Foods - Deep frying coats food with saturated fats that drive up ear wax production.

These foods that cause ear wax contain saturated fats and cholesterol that get absorbed into the bloodstream. The cerumen-producing glands in the ear use cholesterol from the blood to make ear wax. Eating more high-cholesterol foods means more wax builds up over time.

In addition, spicy foods like chilies can irritate the delicate skin of the ear canal. This irritation causes the wax glands to go into overdrive producing more cerumen.

Can Ear Wax Cause Vertigo and Dizziness?

If you are experiencing discomfort from excess ear wax, you might wonder - “Can ear wax cause dizziness and vertigo?”. Yes, Excessive ear wax can cause symptoms of vertigo and dizziness, where the sensation of spinning is experienced by the individual or their surroundings. It is often accompanied by balance problems and nausea. Both vertigo and dizziness can occur when a buildup of hardened ear wax touches the small bones of the middle ear.

These bones transmit sounds via vibration to the inner ear and brain. Too much ear wax alters this process, causing confusing neurological signals that the brain interprets as spinning, unsteadiness, lightheadedness, and vision changes. However, keep in mind that vertigo and dizziness have many potential underlying causes. Always see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Removing impacted ear wax often helps improve or eliminate vertigo and dizziness originating from excessive cerumen accumulation.

Foods That Unclog Ears

Practicing home remedies like dropping garlic oil, olive oil, or apple cider vinegar are some of the most effective methods of unclogging your ear canal. However, you can also include fiber-rich food in your diet that can improve your ear health.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and whole grains do not promote excess cerumen accumulation. Their fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants support healthy ear canal tissue function without overstimulating wax output. Additionally, staying well-hydrated dilutes wax secretions for better flow. Make it a point to drink plenty of water if you hope to avoid clogged ears.

Bottom Line

Ear wax protectively lines the ear canal, shielding the eardrum from damage while preventing infection. Though strange as it may seem, the foods we regularly eat can determine how much ear wax we produce. Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats like cheese, red meat, butter, and shellfish overstimulate the wax-producing glands, causing excessive buildup over time. This sets the stage for wax impaction that can muffle hearing, trigger coughing fits, and disturb balance.

Ear wax accumulation pressing on delicate inner ear structures can sometimes cause vertigo or dizziness. These troubling symptoms clear up upon wax removal. To help minimize wax overproduction and reduce the likelihood of obstruction, eat more fiber-rich plant foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Also, limit foods shown to boost wax output - especially butter, cheese, eggs, meat, shellfish, and fried items.

Stay vigilant about monitoring wax levels if your diet is rich in greasy, high-cholesterol animal products associated with clogged ears. See your doctor promptly if vertigo, muffled hearing, or severe ear blockage occurs so that excess wax can be safely extracted, restoring free airflow and comfort.

Will simply improving your diet guarantee clear ear canals? Not necessarily in every case. However, being mindful of foods that cause ear wax problems is a wise proactive step for avoiding this annoying condition. What changes will you make after reading this?

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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