Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you take a shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the type of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

But it’s also great advice. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a substantial number of problems, especially for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can solidify 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!

Okay, earwax is not the most pleasing of materials. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But it’s actually important for your ear’s health. Produced by specialized 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 ideal amount of earwax. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

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

What is the impact of excess earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can cause several problems. Here are a few:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re probably dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can really hurt. This typically occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.

These are only a few. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems connected to excess earwax. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting in. The problem normally goes away when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, permanent damage can develop. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the greater the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep track of your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to 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).

It will usually call for professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. You’ll be able to start hearing again after 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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