Audio Life Hearing Center- Knoxville, TN

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you take a shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps when you were a child you even recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic substance can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Created 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. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

The problems begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be rather difficult to know if the amount of earwax being produced is healthy or too much.

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what happens as a result of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can cause several problems. Those issues include:

  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing dizziness.
  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This typically happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.

This list is just the beginning. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. Too much earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?

Well, yes it can. One of the most common issues connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The issue usually goes away when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.

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

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep track of your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. In many cases, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by incorrect cleaning (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually causing a blockage).

It will often require professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the correct 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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