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 type of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.
But that advice can be pretty helpful. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by out-of-control earwax. Even worse, this organic compound can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. In other words, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, kind of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Produced 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.
In other words, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the problem starts. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What is the consequence of accumulated earwax?
So, what develops as a consequence of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can cause several issues. Those problems include:
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
This list is just the beginning. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. Excessive earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.
Can earwax affect your hearing?
Well, yes it can. One of the most common problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates 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 if the accumulation becomes extreme, permanent damage can happen. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage persists, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring 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 excessive production but by improper cleaning (for example, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in rather than removing it).
It will often call for professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t get rid of it. You’ll be able to start hearing again after you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the correct way.