Don’t neglect cleaning 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. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But that advice can be pretty helpful. Your hearing can be significantly affected by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic compound can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. In a nutshell, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
We get it, earwax isn’t 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 specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.
In other words, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be rather challenging to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What is the impact of excess earwax?
So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? There are several issues that may develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:
- Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can become trapped behind impacted earwax.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This is usually a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
This list is just the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.
Can earwax affect your hearing?
The short answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.
But if the accumulation becomes extreme, permanent damage can develop. The same goes for earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically 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 safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
Frequently, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unable to clear without professional help. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the right way).