Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you take a shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a child. That’s the kind of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

But it’s also excellent advice. Your hearing can be significantly affected by an overabundance of earwax. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. In other words, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. 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.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

Too much earwax is where the trouble begins. And it can be rather challenging to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.

What is the consequence of accumulated earwax?

So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can lead to a number of issues. Here are a few:

  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This is normally a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • 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.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.

This list is only the beginning. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

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 produces a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The issue normally clears up when the earwax is removed, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But there can be long-term damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the excess earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the risk 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 improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

Frequently, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unable to clear without professional help. 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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