Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps you even recall getting that advice as a kid. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But that advice can be rather helpful. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. In a nutshell, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most people share. But earwax does have a purpose. Created by specialized glands in your ear and pushed outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.
In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the problem starts. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What does excess earwax do?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are numerous problems that could develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:
- Infection: Infections can be the outcome of excessive earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
These are only a few. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. Excess earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
The short answer is yes. One of the most typical issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The issue normally goes away when the earwax is eliminated, and usually, your hearing will go back to normal.
But there can be long-term damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the extra earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to protect your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most instances (a cotton swab, for example, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually causing a blockage).
It will often require professional eradication 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 as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the correct way.