What You Need to Know About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even remember getting that advice as a kid. That’s the sort of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by out-of-control 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 clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s an opinion that most people share. But it’s actually important for your ear’s health. Earwax is made by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dust and dirt.

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

The troubles begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity 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 hand and, over time, builds up, can cause several problems. Those problems include:

  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re probably dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing you to feel dizzy.

These are just a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The problem normally clears up when the earwax is removed, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.

But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most instances (for example, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in rather than removing it).

Often, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unmovable without professional treatment. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again after 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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