What You Should Know About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inevitably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a child you even recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be significantly affected by an overabundance of earwax. Still worse, this organic substance can harden in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax is not the most pleasing of materials. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But earwax does have a purpose. 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.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they produce the right amount of earwax. It may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

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

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what happens as a result of accumulated earwax? There are numerous problems that may arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent indications of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This typically happens when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.

This list is just the beginning. Ignored earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. One of the most common problems connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The issue normally goes away when the earwax is eliminated, and usually, your hearing will go back to normal.

But there can be sustained damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the extra earwax sticks 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 safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compress the earwax in your ear rather than removing it, eventually causing a blockage).

Frequently, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unmovable 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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