Ear Wax Buildup: What You Should Know


Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you take a shower, always remember to wash your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even recall getting that advice as a child. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Your hearing can be significantly affected by out-of-control earwax. Even worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax isn’t the most appealing of substances. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is produced 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.

Essentially, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. It may seem weird, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

The troubles 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 starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can cause a number of issues. Those problems include:

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This normally happens when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.

These are just a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues connected to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The problem usually clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.

But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets severe enough. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage persists, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good idea to keep track of your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually causing a blockage).

Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, thick, and unable to clear without professional help. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again after 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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