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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. Maybe you even remember getting that advice as a kid. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also good advice. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Created by specialized glands in your ear and pushed outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the right amount of earwax. It might seem weird, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be somewhat challenging to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can lead to several problems. Those issues include:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. If fluid accumulates, it can become trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This usually happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.

These are only a few. Headaches and discomfort can occur because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. One of the most common problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will typically go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, long term damage can appear. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the extra 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 safeguard your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most instances (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in rather than getting rid of it).

It will often require professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t get rid of it. 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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