What You Should Know About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the kind of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

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

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But it is actually essential for the health of your ears. Earwax is manufactured by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dust and dirt.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of 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 accumulated earwax do?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous problems that could arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Here are a few:

  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, sometimes it can). This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having issues.

This list is only the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of unchecked earwax buildup. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

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 lingers, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

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 cases (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually leading to a blockage).

It will often 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 capable of starting to hear again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, 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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