Ear Wax Buildup: What You Should be Aware of

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 recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, especially for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard 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 appealing of materials. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. 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.

Essentially, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.

Too much earwax is where the trouble starts. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does excess earwax do?

So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? There are several issues that may develop as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. 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, in some cases it can). This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid accumulates, it can become trapped behind plugged earwax.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.

These are only a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The short answer is yes. One of the most typical issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The issue normally clears up when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually not permanent. But the longer the extra earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the greater the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many circumstances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (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, dense, and unable to clear without professional help. You’ll be able to start hearing again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right 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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