Can Your Earwax Shed A Light On Potential Diseases?

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Although earwax may seem like just another body secretion that we need to clean out-- throwing out your earwax could be similar to throwing out essential information.

Researchers from Monell Chemical Sense Center discovered that most people have one of two different types of earwax.

The study revealed that each type of earwax gave off a different odor.

Furthermore, the researchers discovered that one of these types of earwax shared a gene associated with body odor or "stinky armpits."

This discovery also indicated that earwax may have a wealth of information on a person's health.

But the study did not stop there. Instead, researchers dug a little deeper and revealed that there is a link between body odor and disease. 

"Odors in earwax may be able to tell us what a person has eaten and where they have been," said Dr. George Preti, an organic chemist at Monell. "Earwax is a neglected body secretion whose potential as an information source has yet to be explored."

Did you know that earwax is known to give a 'heads-up' about two odor causing diseases before they can be detected in blood or urine?

2 Examples of Odor-Causing Diseases:

1. Maple Syrup Urine Disease

2. Alkaptonuria (Black Urine Disease)

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Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD)

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's Genetics Home Reference, MSUD is a rare genetic disorder that develops from inheriting a mutated gene from each parent. The disorder causes the body to be unable to process certain protein building blocks which makes their urine have a distinctive maple syrup odor which it gets its name from.

The condition is often found in new born infants and is characterized by poor feeding, vomiting, lack of energy (lethargy) and developmental delay. 

If left untreated, MSUD can cause significant physical and neurological problems such as seizures, coma, and death. 

The most common and severe form of the disease is the classic type which becomes apparent within the first 24-48 hours of life. Other forms of the disorder become apparant later in infancy or childhood and are typically milder. 

Alkaptonuria, Or Black Urine Disease

Alkaptonuria is also a rare inherited genetic disorder in which the body can't process amino acids. This disease can also be detected first by analyzing a person's earwax. Alkaptonuria causes a person's urine to turn black when exposed to air.

The buildup of dark pigment, ochronosis, in connective tissues such as cartilage and skin, is also characterized by this disorder. This unusual blue-black pigment usually appears in people after age 30. Those suffering from alkaptonuria usually develop arthritis in the spine and large joints. Other problems include heart problems, kidney stones, and prostate stones.


So there you have it! Earwax contains valuable information that you might otherwise miss and can shed a light on potential disease linked to earwax odor.

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