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Quiz: All About Earwax

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Earwax is good for your ears.

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Earwax is good for your ears.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The No. 1 job of that yellow, gooey stuff inside your ears is to keep them healthy. Earwax stops dust, dirt, bugs, and other crud from getting into your ear canal. It also protects ears from infection.

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It’s OK to use a cotton swab in your ear if you are gentle.

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It’s OK to use a cotton swab in your ear if you are gentle.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Put down the swab -- or anything else. Pointy objects can puncture your eardrum and damage the small bones inside your ear. Plus, cotton swabs might actually push the wax farther in, where it can harden and cause pain and hearing problems.

If you can see gunk in your ear, get rid of it.

If you can see gunk in your ear, get rid of it.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The sight of earwax may gross you out, but here’s the truth: It has nothing to do with cleanliness. Resist the urge to do something about it unless it’s brown or black, or white and flaky. These could be signs of infection or other issues, so call your doctor.  

Which part of your ear makes earwax?

Which part of your ear makes earwax?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The outer third of your ear canal is a 3-centimeter tunnel. The skin in it has special glands that make earwax.

There’s something you do every day to help move old earwax out of your ear canal.

There’s something you do every day to help move old earwax out of your ear canal.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Like some ovens, your ear canals are self-cleaning. Every time you chew or move your jaw, you’re helping move old earwax from your ear canal to your ear opening. The wax then dries and falls out.

Ear candles are a good way to remove wax.

Ear candles are a good way to remove wax.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Putting anything inside your ear = bad idea. Putting a lit candle inside your ear = worse idea. With ear candling, you stick a hollow cone soaked in beeswax or paraffin in your ear and light the other end. The heat is supposed to draw out wax, but there’s no proof that it works, and it’s dangerous. People using ear candles have burned themselves, blocked their ear canals with candle wax, and punctured their eardrums.

What’s the best way to remove earwax buildup at home?

What’s the best way to remove earwax buildup at home?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

If you feel like you have too much earwax, try using hydrogen peroxide, ear drops, mineral oil, or saline solution inside your ear. These will help dissolve the wax or soften it. Mix hydrogen peroxide and water equally, and put 5 drops in your ear at night. Lie on your side and let the solution soak in. If this doesn’t work, check with your doctor. He has special instruments that can help remove wax.

Your earwax may be hard if you have:

Your earwax may be hard if you have:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Eczema can make your skin dry and flaky, and dry skin can make your earwax hard. Wax that has been in your ear for a long time or that picks up a lot of dirt also can get hard and dry. If it's hard it's more likely to cause a blockage. If you have a problem with earwax, you might want to see your doctor every 6 to 12 months for a checkup.

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Listen up: When it comes to earwax, you know your stuff. Great job!

Hear this: You know how to separate earwax fact from fiction. Well done!

You may not want to hear this, but you’re not an earwax expert just yet. Study up and take the quiz again for a better result.

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