Ear Wax Accumulation: What You Should be Aware of

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe 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 it’s also great advice. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a substantial number of problems, especially for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really hard to clean. In a nutshell, the cleaner 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 it’s actually essential for the health of your ears. Produced by special glands in your ear and pushed outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.

So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the right amount of earwax. It might seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

The troubles begin when your ears produce too much earwax. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What is the consequence of excess earwax?

So, what happens as a consequence of excess earwax? There are numerous issues that could develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those issues include:

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This is typically a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.

These are only a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But there can be sustained damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage persists, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most instances (for example, blockage is frequently a result of cotton swabs, which will push the earwax further in rather than removing it).

It will often call for professional removal of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of 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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