Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a child. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be rather helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. In other words, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But it’s actually important for the health of your ears. Produced by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.

So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. It may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What is the consequence of accumulated earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can cause a number of issues. Those problems include:

  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can really hurt. This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can suffer, causing dizziness.
  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can happen because of unchecked earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. One of the most common issues connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually temporary. But the longer the extra earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for example, will often compress the earwax in your ear rather than removing it, eventually leading to a blockage).

It will often require professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the correct 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.