What You Need to Know About Earwax Buildup

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even remember getting that advice as a child. 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 problems, particularly for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really hard to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

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 it’s actually essential for the health of your ears. Earwax is made by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.

Essentially, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. It may seem strange, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

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

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? There are numerous problems that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those issues include:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re usually suffering from a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can happen because of unchecked earwax accumulation. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues linked to excess earwax. Usually producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. The issue usually clears up when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.

But if the buildup becomes severe, permanent damage can occur. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring 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 accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by incorrect cleaning (for example, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

Often, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unable to clear without professional help. 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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