The Ear Wax Elevator

Did you know that there is an escalator in your ear canal? There is a mechanism in the ear canal that moves wax from the eardrum to the opening of the auditory canal, similar to an escalator. If an ink spot is placed on the eardrum, it will slowly migrate out until it is visible at the entrance to the auditory canal.  This mechanism is called epithelial cell migration.

Epithelial cells are the outer layer of cells in the auditory canal (they are also found in the skin and many other places in the body).  The epithelial cells slowly move in a lateral direction from the eardrum.  It’s not exactly clear what the underlying control of this movement is, however some studies have suggested it is controlled by the blood vessels that supply the epithelial cells of the ear drum.  They theorize that a poor blood supply to this area may explain why some have issues with earwax not clearing and clogging up  the ear.  Another common reason for clogging is a narrow or twisted ear canal.

If you want to read more about earwax buildup and how to treat it, you can click here.