When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a child you even recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But it’s also good advice. Your hearing can be substantially affected by out-of-control earwax. And additionally, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, kind of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Earwax is produced by glands inside of your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.
So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.
The troubles 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 may arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those problems include:
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
- Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
This list is only the beginning. Headaches and pain can happen because of uncontrolled earwax buildup. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
The short answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The issue usually clears up when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.
But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compress the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
Often, the wax has become hardened, dense, and unable to clear 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 correct way.