Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a child 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 rather helpful. Your hearing can be substantially affected by an overabundance of earwax. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
We get it, earwax is not the most appealing of substances. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Produced by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.
So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. It might seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.
The troubles begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be somewhat difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What does excess earwax do?
So, what develops as a consequence of accumulated earwax? There are several problems that may develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Here are a few:
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
- Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This normally happens 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.
This list is only the beginning. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?
The short answer is yes. One of the most typical issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a kind 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 accumulated earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually not permanent. But the longer the extra earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to protect your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many cases, earwax accumulation is caused not by excess production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will often compress the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
It will usually require professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t get rid of it. You’ll be able to start hearing again after you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.