Ear Wax Buildup: What You Should Know

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe when you were a kid you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also good advice. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic substance can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax is not the most appealing of substances. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But it is 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.

In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

The troubles start when your ears produce too much earwax. And it can be rather difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.

What does excess earwax do?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can lead to several issues. Those problems include:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This usually occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing 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.

These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Too much earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax may 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 connected to excess earwax. Normally producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

But if the accumulation becomes extreme, long term damage can appear. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. In many circumstances, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by incorrect cleaning (for instance, blockage is frequently caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in rather than removing it).

Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unable to clear without professional help. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the correct way).


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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