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 caught 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 buildup can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. And on top of that, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. In a nutshell, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
We get it, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Created by special glands in your ear and pushed outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
In other words, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.
The troubles begin when your ears produce too much earwax. And it can be rather difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.
What does accumulated earwax do?
So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several problems that could arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those problems include:
- Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This usually occurs when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having problems.
These are only a few. Headaches and pain can occur because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.
Can your hearing be affected by earwax?
Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected 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 cleaned out.
But if the buildup becomes extreme, long term damage can develop. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s normally 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 protect your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. In many cases, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually leading to a blockage).
Often, the wax has become hardened, thick, and unable to clear without professional help. The sooner you receive that treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to hear again (and the sooner you’ll be able to start cleaning your ears the right way).