Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

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”. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a child. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be rather helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of materials. That’s an opinion that most people share. But earwax does serve a purpose. Earwax is manufactured by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dust and dirt.

In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. It may seem weird, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

The troubles begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what develops as a consequence of excess earwax? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can cause a number of issues. Here are a few:

  • Earache: One of the most common signs of excess earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, sometimes it can). This normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of surplus earwax. If fluid accumulates, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having problems.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.

These are just a few. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.

Can earwax affect your hearing?

The quick answer is yes. One of the most typical problems connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. 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 go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage persists, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it seems logical 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 removing it, eventually causing a blockage).

Often, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unmovable without professional treatment. 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 correct 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.