Ear wax and stress linked – the contents of your ear wax can show stress levels
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Cortisol is created by the adrenal glands, on top of the kidneys. Known as the body’s stress hormone, the contents of ear wax could paint a clear picture of how you’re feeling inside.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning on Wednesday, November 11, Dr Philippa discussed signs of ill health.
She said that people who have mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, have higher levels of cortisol in their ear wax.
Dr Andres Herane-Vives, based at University College London, published a research paper on the subject on November 2, 2020.
“Cortisol sampling is notoriously difficult,” said Dr Herane-Vives, referring to hair and blood samples.
“Levels of the hormone can fluctuate,” he explained. “But cortisol levels in earwax appear to be more stable.”
Alongside his team of researchers, Dr Herane-Vives tested different cortisol sampling techniques.
Enrolling 37 study participants, the researchers found that earwax samples yielded more cortisol than hair samples.
Moreover, ear wax sampling “was least likely to be affected by cofounding factors”.
Produced by glands in the ear canal, certified WebMD, ear wax traps dust and other small particles from damaging or infecting the eardrum.
Typically, the wax dries up and falls out of the ear, along with any trapped debris.
However, sometimes ear wax can build-up in the ear drum, which can lead to:
- Decreased hearing
- Ear pain
- Plugged or fullness sensation
- Ringing in the ear
Signs of an infection are as follows:
- Serious pain
- Drainage from the ear canal
- Odour coming from the ear
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Ear wax build-up and blockage tends to occur due to the use of cotton swabs.
Even though cotton swabs can remove superficial ear wax, it can push the rest of it deeper into the ear canal.
Those who wear a hearing aid or earplugs are more prone to earwax blockage.
A quick trip to the GP’s clinic can remove excess wax with the use of a curette, ear drops or gentle suction.
Ear wax removal at home
You can soften earwax by putting a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin or over-the-counter wax softening drops.
In addition to ear wax and stress levels, Dr Philippa warned of high cholesterol.
If you’re under 60 years of age, and you have a “greyish ring around your eye, it could be a sign of raised cholesterol”.
Medically known as arcus senilis, the Mayo Clinic described it as a “grey or white arc visible above and below the outer part of the cornea”.
Fairly common as you get older, it’s caused by fat deposits and doesn’t require any treatment.
However, in younger individuals, it may be a sign of familial hyperlipidemia.
This inherited condition causes high cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides in the blood.
It’s also associated with an increased risk of heart disease… so it’s time to check your eyes.
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