When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps when you were a kid you even remember 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 that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, especially for your hearing. Still worse, this organic compound can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Okay, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But it is actually important for the health of your ears. 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.
In other words, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble begins. And it can be rather challenging to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What is the consequence of accumulated earwax?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can lead to several issues. Those issues include:
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
- Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
This list is only the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Too much earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.
Can earwax affect your hearing?
The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems linked to excess earwax. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up 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 there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger 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. In many cases, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to push the earwax further in rather than getting rid of it).
Often, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unmovable without professional treatment. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.