Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Maybe you even recall 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 it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be substantially affected by out-of-control earwax. Even worse, this organic substance 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!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Earwax is manufactured by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.
Essentially, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. It might seem weird, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.
The problems begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be somewhat challenging to know if the amount of earwax being produced is healthy or too much.
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous issues that may develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those problems include:
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent symptoms of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This typically occurs when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
- 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 appear.
- 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 you to feel dizzy.
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
This list is just the beginning. Ignored earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?
The short answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues linked to excess earwax. Usually causing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will typically go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.
But if the accumulation becomes extreme, permanent damage can happen. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. In many circumstances, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).
It will often require professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove 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.