Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But that advice can be rather helpful. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. In other words, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But it is actually essential for your ear’s health. Produced by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, 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. It may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be fairly difficult to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.
What does excess earwax do?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, builds up, can cause several problems. Here are a few:
- Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing you to feel dizzy.
- Earache: One of the most common signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This typically happens when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
- 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 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 bit too much earwax.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
The short answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues linked to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The issue usually clears up when the earwax is removed, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.
But if the buildup becomes extreme, long term damage can appear. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally temporary. But the longer the excess earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
It’s a good plan to keep track of your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most cases (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
Often, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unmovable without professional treatment. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the right way).