Hearing Health Blog

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps when you were a child you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the sort of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a substantial number of issues, particularly for your hearing. And on top of that, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is manufactured by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they produce the right amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be somewhat challenging to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.

What is the consequence of accumulated earwax?

So, what develops as a result of excess earwax? There are several problems that may arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:

  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.

This list is only the beginning. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The issue normally clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally temporary. But the longer the extra earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the greater the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in rather than getting rid of it).

It will usually require professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the right way).

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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