What You Should Know About Earwax Buildup

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a child. That’s the type of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a substantial number of issues, especially for your hearing. Still worse, this organic compound can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But it is actually important for the health of your ears. Produced by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the problem begins. And it can be somewhat challenging to know if the amount of earwax being produced is healthy or too much.

What does excess earwax do?

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. Those issues include:

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can really hurt. This is typically a result of the earwax creating pressure someplace it shouldn’t.

This list is just the beginning. Headaches and pain can occur because of unchecked earwax accumulation. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common issues connected 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 in. The problem normally clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.

But if the buildup becomes severe, permanent damage can appear. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring 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 compact the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).

Often, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unable to clear without professional treatment. The sooner you get that help, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of 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.