What You Need to Know About Earwax Buildup

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a kid. 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. Your hearing can be substantially affected by an overabundance of earwax. Still worse, this organic compound can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But it is actually essential for your ear’s health. 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 dirt and dust.

In other words, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

The troubles start when your ears produce too much earwax. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What is the impact of excess earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several problems that may arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably suffering from a condition called tinnitus. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
  • Earache: One of the most common signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This usually occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.

This list is only the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax buildup. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can earwax affect your hearing?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. In many instances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will often compact the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).

It will usually require professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the correct way).


The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.

Stop struggling to hear conversations. Come see us today. Call or Text