Hearing Health Blog

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a child. That’s the type of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.

But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be substantially affected by an overabundance of earwax. Still 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. That’s an opinion that most people share. But it’s actually important for your ear’s health. Earwax is manufactured by glands inside of your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.

In other words, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.

The problems begin when your ears produce too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax begins to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can cause several problems. Those issues include:

  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.

These are only a few. Headaches and pain can happen because of uncontrolled earwax buildup. Excessive earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. One of the most typical problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The issue usually clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.

But if the buildup becomes extreme, permanent damage can develop. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the greater the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep track of your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for example, will often compress the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually leading to a blockage).

It will often call for professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, 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.
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