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. Perhaps when you were a kid you even remember your parents telling you to do it. That’s the kind of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.

But it’s also excellent advice. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by an overabundance of earwax. And on top of that, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But it’s actually important for your ear’s health. Produced by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, 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. 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, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what happens as a consequence of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can lead to several problems. Here are a few:

  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This is normally a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can occur because of unchecked earwax accumulation. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues linked to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The problem normally goes away when the earwax is eliminated, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.

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

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good idea to keep track of your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. In many cases, earwax accumulation is caused not by excess production but by incorrect cleaning (for example, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in instead of removing it).

Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unmovable 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 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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