When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a child. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Even worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. In other words, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Created by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
Essentially, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.
The problems begin when your ears produce too much earwax. And it can be fairly challenging to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.
What does accumulated 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 accumulates over time. Here are a few:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having problems.
- Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing 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.
- Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common indications of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This is usually a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
This list is only the beginning. Headaches and pain can occur because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected to excess earwax. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates 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 cleaned out.
But if the buildup becomes extreme, long term damage can happen. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you ignore 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. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most cases (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compress the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually leading to a blockage).
Frequently, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unmovable without professional help. 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 right way).