Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Maybe you even remember getting that advice as a kid. That’s the kind of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.
But it’s also good advice. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic compound can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Okay, earwax is not the most appealing of materials. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Produced by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what happens as a consequence of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, builds up, can lead to a number of problems. Those issues include:
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re probably suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. 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 bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
- Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent indications of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This typically occurs when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
These are only a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.
Can your hearing be affected by earwax?
Well, yes it can. One of the most typical problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will typically go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.
But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets severe enough. The same goes for earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the greater the risk 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. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most instances (for instance, blockage is frequently caused by cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in rather than removing it).
Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, thick, and unmovable without professional help. The sooner you receive that help, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the correct way).