What You Should Understand About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also excellent advice. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, especially for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But it’s actually essential for the health of your ears. Earwax is made by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dust and dirt.

In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of poor hygiene.

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

What does excess earwax do?

So, what develops as a result of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can lead to a number of issues. Those problems include:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.

These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Excessive earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real problem is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The problem normally goes away when the earwax is removed, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, long term damage can develop. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most cases (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually leading to a blockage).

Frequently, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unmovable without professional treatment. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to hear 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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