Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

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. Perhaps when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also good advice. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by out-of-control earwax. And on top of that, 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 a viewpoint that most individuals share. But it’s actually essential for the health of your ears. Created by specialized glands in your ear and pushed outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.

Essentially, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the problem begins. And it can be fairly difficult to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.

What does excess earwax do?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several issues that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those issues include:

  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re usually dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This usually occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of excessive earwax. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.

These are just a few. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues connected to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

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

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many circumstances, earwax buildup is caused not by excess production but by incorrect cleaning (for instance, blockage is frequently caused by cotton swabs, which will push the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, thick, and unmovable without professional help. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the right 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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