When you take a shower, always remember to clean your ears. Whenever you say that, you inevitably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by out-of-control earwax. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Okay, earwax is not the most appealing of materials. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Earwax is manufactured 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.
So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself is not a sign of poor hygiene.
The problems start when your ears generate too much earwax. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax begins to outweigh its advantages (literally).
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what happens as a consequence of excess earwax? There are several issues that could arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those issues include:
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent indications of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
These are just a few. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.
Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?
The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent issues linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleared out.
But if the accumulation becomes extreme, long term damage can happen. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. In many cases, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually leading to a blockage).
It will often call for professional removal of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t get rid of it. 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).