When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a child you even recall your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.
But it’s also good advice. Out-of-control 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 hard to clean. In other words, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most people share. But it’s actually essential for your ear’s health. Produced by specialized glands in your ear and pushed outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of poor hygiene.
The problems start 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 excess earwax do?
So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several problems that may develop as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Here are a few:
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.
- 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.
- Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having issues.
- Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is usually a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
This list is only the beginning. Headaches and pain can occur because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Excess earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real problem is a bit too much earwax.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems linked to excess earwax. Normally causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.
But there can be long-term damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. The same goes for earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the extra earwax sticks around (that is, the longer you neglect 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 safeguard your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most cases (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).
It will usually call for professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. 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 correct way).