When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inevitably use your “parent voice”. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a kid. That’s the sort of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of youth.
But that advice can be rather helpful. Your hearing can be significantly affected by out-of-control earwax. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
We get it, earwax is not the most appealing of substances. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Produced by specialized 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. It may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be fairly difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what develops as a result of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can cause a number of issues. 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. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
- Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus 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 get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
- Earache: One of the most common signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This is typically a result of the earwax creating pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
This list is just the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of unchecked earwax buildup. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be affected by earwax?
The quick answer is yes. One of the most typical issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally causing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.
But if the buildup becomes severe, permanent damage can appear. The same goes for earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. In many cases, earwax buildup is caused not by excess production but by incorrect cleaning (for example, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in rather than removing it).
It will often call for professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the correct way).