When you take a shower, always remember to wash your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a child. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a substantial number of problems, especially for your hearing. Even worse, this organic compound can harden in place making it challenging to clean out. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
We get it, earwax is not the most pleasing of substances. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is produced by glands inside of 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 generate the ideal amount of earwax. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the problem starts. And it can be somewhat challenging to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What is the consequence of excess earwax?
So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, builds up, can lead to several problems. Here are a few:
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent indications of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
- 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.
This list is just the beginning. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a little bit too much earwax.
Can earwax affect your hearing?
The short answer is yes. One of the most common problems connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. The issue normally clears up when the earwax is removed, and usually, your hearing will go back to normal.
But there can be sustained damage caused by accumulated earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. 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 protect your hearing. In many circumstances, earwax buildup is caused not by excess production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which will push the earwax further in rather than removing it).
It will usually call for professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the correct way).