What You Should Understand About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the kind 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. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Even worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it difficult to clean out. In other words, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But it’s actually important for your ear’s health. Earwax is produced by glands in 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 stay clean and healthy when they generate the right amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble begins. And it can be rather difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.

What is the impact of excess earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several problems that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear ringing or buzzing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with 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 excessive earwax. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.
  • Earache: One of the most common signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This is normally a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of unchecked earwax buildup. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The short answer is yes. One of the most common problems connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The problem normally goes away when the earwax is removed, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. In many cases, earwax buildup is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

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).


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.