When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even recall getting that advice as a kid. As you get wrapped 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 substantial number of issues, particularly for your hearing. And on top of that, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is manufactured by glands in 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 stay clean and healthy when they generate the right amount of earwax. It may seem weird, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.
An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble starts. And it can be somewhat difficult to know if the amount of earwax being produced is healthy or too much.
What is the impact of excess earwax?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can lead to a number of problems. Here are a few:
- Infection: Infections can be the consequence of excessive earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
- 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 normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
This list is just the beginning. Ignored earwax can trigger 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?
Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems linked to excess earwax. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.
But if the accumulation becomes extreme, long term damage can develop. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
Often, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unmovable without professional treatment. You’ll be able to start hearing again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.