Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

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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”. 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 kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Even worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it difficult to clean out. In other words, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax is not the most pleasing of substances. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does serve a purpose. 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 remain clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the problem starts. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does excess earwax do?

So, what happens as a result of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can lead to several issues. Here are a few:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as 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. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This is typically a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.

These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of unchecked earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

The short answer is yes. One of the most common problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The issue usually goes away when the earwax is removed, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But if the buildup becomes severe, permanent damage can appear. And tinnitus is also typically 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 seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many instances, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually causing a blockage).

Often, the wax has become hardened, dense, and unmovable without professional help. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of 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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