Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

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

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by an overabundance of earwax. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax isn’t the most appealing of substances. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does have a purpose. Created by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.

In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.

The problems start when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be fairly challenging to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.

What is the impact of accumulated earwax?

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

  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can suffer, causing dizziness.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can happen because of uncontrolled earwax buildup. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real problem is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues linked to excess earwax. Usually causing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting in. Your hearing will typically go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But there can be sustained damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect 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 situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compact the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).

It will usually require professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the correct way).

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