Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inevitably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the sort of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.
But it’s also good advice. Out-of-control earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. 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 clean.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Okay, earwax isn’t the most appealing of substances. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Created by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.
Essentially, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. It may seem strange, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.
The problems start when your ears generate too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are numerous issues that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:
- Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid accumulates, it can become trapped behind impacted earwax.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
- Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Earache: One of the most common signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, sometimes it can). This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can occur because of unchecked earwax buildup. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?
Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues connected to excess earwax. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The issue normally goes away when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.
But there can be long-term damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many instances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compact the earwax in your ear rather than removing it, eventually causing a blockage).
It will usually require professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. You’ll be able to start hearing again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.