Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe when you were a child 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 childhood.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, especially for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can harden 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!

Okay, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of substances. That’s a viewpoint that most individuals share. But earwax does have a purpose. Produced by specialized glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.

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

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

What is the impact of excess earwax?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, builds up, can cause a number of issues. Here are a few:

  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This typically occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • 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.

These are just a few. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use 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 bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The quick answer is yes. One of the most typical problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. The problem normally goes away when the earwax is extracted, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.

But if the buildup becomes severe, long term damage can occur. And tinnitus is also typically temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, permanent damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard 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 situations (for instance, blockage is frequently caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

Often, the wax has become hardened, dense, and unable to clear without professional treatment. You’ll be capable of starting to hear again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, 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.