When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a kid. That’s the type of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.
But that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Even worse, this organic compound can harden 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 an opinion that most individuals share. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is made by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.
So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. It may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor 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 begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What does excess earwax do?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous issues that could develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those problems include:
- 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 is usually a result of the earwax creating pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having problems.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably suffering from a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can become trapped behind impacted earwax.
These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can occur because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Too much earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be affected by earwax?
The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The issue normally clears up when the earwax is extracted, and usually, your hearing will go back to normal.
But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the greater the risk of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most cases (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).
It will usually require professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. The sooner you get 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).