Louisville Family Audiology - Louisville, KY

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a kid you even recall your parents telling you to do it. That’s the type 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. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Even worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax is not the most appealing of substances. That’s a viewpoint that most people share. But it is actually important for the health of your ears. Earwax is made by glands inside of 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 clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble begins. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy amount of earwax starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).

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 issues. Here are a few:

  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent indications of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, sometimes it can). This is usually a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re probably dealing with a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.

These are only a few. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

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

But there can be sustained damage caused by accumulated earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe 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?

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to safeguard your hearing. In many circumstances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excess production but by incorrect cleaning (for instance, blockage is frequently a result of cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unmovable without professional treatment. You’ll be able to start hearing again after you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right way.

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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.
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