Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the type of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.
But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be substantially affected by an overabundance of earwax. And on top of that, 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!
Okay, earwax is not the most appealing of substances. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is made by glands inside of your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dust and dirt.
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 is not a sign of poor hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the trouble begins. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).
What is the impact of accumulated earwax?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous problems that may arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can really hurt. This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.
This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Too much earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. So excessive earwax might make you think your hearing aids are having problems.
Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?
The quick answer is yes. One of the most typical issues connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.
But if the buildup becomes extreme, permanent damage can occur. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the extra earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the greater 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 leads to buildup in most situations (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which will push the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).
It will usually call for professional removal of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again after you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.