Why do I cough when I pick out my ears?

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  • Source:Md Hearing Aids

The author of this issue: Cheng Yuxian
National level four hearing aid technician
Graduated from Zhejiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, majoring in hearing and speech rehabilitation



I believe there are many Everyone has had this experience. When picking out their ears, they always feel like coughing unconsciously, especially when others are helping to pick out their ears. What exactly is this for?

First, let’s understand the structure of the auditory system

The auditory system is divided into the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

The tympanic membrane (commonly known as the eardrum) is the junction between the middle ear and the outer ear. It blocks the contact between the middle ear and the outside world and also provides a certain degree of protection.



The overall length of the external auditory canal is about 2.5~3.5cm. Generally speaking, the female external auditory canal is shorter and more curved than that of males. The outer third of the external auditory canal is called the cartilage. The surface of the cartilage is covered by a layer of skin and fat, so it can move to a certain extent during stretching and other exercises.



The surface of the skin has sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and pores, so the ears will sweat and grow hair. The surface secretes sebum and other secretions and replaces necrotic cells. , and the dust in the air combine to become our cerumen (commonly known as earwax).



Generally speaking, there is no need to remove the cerumen, because when we talk or chew, the movement of the mandible drives the movement of the external auditory canal, and the cerumen falls off on its own. The external auditory canal fell out.

Except for some people, the sebaceous glands in the external auditory canal are more developed and secrete too much oil, resulting in moist cerumen, which is called oily ear. When the cerumen is severely clogged and forms an embolism, it may be necessary to go to a professional institution for treatment.

The inner third of the external auditory canal is bone. The surface of the bony external auditory canal is covered with a layer of epithelial tissue. Therefore, when picking out the ear, once it exceeds the cartilage, the touch If you touch a bone, it will be easier to feel pain, and it will be easier to get injured and bleed.

The front wall of the external auditory canal and the tympanic membrane are attached to the auricular branch of the vagus nerve. When stimulated by a foreign object, the vagus nerve is excited, so coughing occurs, which is the ear cough reflex. There are cases showing cerumen. Blocks may also induce this reflex.



So how to avoid the ear cough reflex?

The best way is of course to avoid picking out your ears. As mentioned above, there is usually no need to pick out your ears. If you really need to, you should use sterilized instruments and do it gently. Avoid brute force, and the depth should not exceed the cartilage to prevent damage to the skin of the external auditory canal and subsequent infection.

Be careful not to use cotton swabs to remove cerumen, because lumps of cerumen may penetrate deep into the external auditory canal due to the force of the cotton swab, making it more difficult to remove.



If you really can't bear it, you can lightly tap the outer ear twice with your hands, but you should also pay attention to the frequency and don't do it every day. Cut your nails and wash your hands before doing it.

Warm reminder:

Everyone must take good care of their ears, and do not provide services such as "ear picking" in irregular places. You should go to a regular hospital for special treatment.