Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a child. That’s the kind 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. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it difficult to clean out. In a nutshell, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Earwax is produced 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 produce the right amount of earwax. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

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

What is the consequence of excess earwax?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous issues that may develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those problems include:

  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is normally a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of excessive earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can suffer, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.

These are only a few. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax buildup. Too much earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems 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 prevalent problems linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, long term damage can occur. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage persists, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep track of your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most instances (for instance, blockage is frequently caused by cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in rather than removing it).

It will usually call for professional removal of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the correct 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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