Fair warning: It's about to get real in here. Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you can learn about your health simply by taking a look at what's in your ears 👂🏼. Looking at your earwax may make you squeamish but it has serious benefits. For starters, it keeps our ears clean, moisturized and protects them from dust and bacteria. The list goes on.
When I was younger, I used to clean my ears by inserting a cotton swab and trying to get rid of whatever was there. But that's actually a surefire to get a major infection, not stop it.
Whether it's dry, watery, flaky or green, here's how you can tell what's *really* going on with your body.
1. If It Has a Really Bad Odor
As gross as it may be, your earwax should be odorless. If you notice a strong smell 🐽 coming from your ears, there is a chance that you may have an ear 👂 infection. To be safe, it's important to get your ears checked out the next time you visit your doctor.
2. If It's Super Flaky and Breaks off
There are two possible reasons for why your earwax is flaky. The first one is that you may have eczema. A lot of people don't realize that it's totally possible to have eczema in your ears; it's actually pretty common. The flaky texture can also be a natural symptom of getting older.
3. If It Feels like Something is Stuck in Your Ear
Contrary to popular belief, using cotton swabs to clean your ears actually does more harm than good—depending on how you do it. In fact, sticking anything in your ear 👂 ends up pushing your earwax further into your canal, which is why you may feel like something is blocking your ears. The best way to clean 🚿 your ears is to either wipe the outside of your ear with a wet 💦 towel or gently swipe a cotton swab WITHOUT inserting it into your ear canal.
4. If It's Really Dry and Brittle
The biggest cause of this is genetics and old age. Studies have shown that depending on what region your family 👨👩👦👦 comes from, your earwax will either be dry or wet. For example, people from East Asia are more likely to have dry earwax.
5. If It's Watery (or Sticks to Your Pillow at Night)
Do you work out 💪🏼 regularly? If so, the sweat buildup in your ear is making your earwax consistency wetter. But if you notice that your ears are running when you're doing something as simple as laying down in bed, you may want to get it checked out as it might be an infection.
6. If the Color is Green or Yellow 🤢
The color of earwax usually ranges from any shade of brown or orange. However, if it looks green, yellow or even black, that is a red flag that you should see your doctor immediately. You'd be surprised at just how easy it is to get an ear infection. For starters, water that stays in your ear after a shower can cause an infection.