Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. That’s the kind of memory that can remind you of simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.
But it’s also excellent advice. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by out-of-control earwax. And additionally, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. In a nutshell, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, sort of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does serve a purpose. Produced by special glands in your ear and pushed outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
In other words, the ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the problem begins. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What is the impact of excess earwax?
So, what happens as a consequence of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can lead to a number of issues. Here are a few:
- 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 really hurt. This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom ringing or buzzing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid accumulates, it can become trapped behind plugged earwax.
These are only a few. Headaches and discomfort can occur because of unchecked earwax accumulation. Excessive earwax can hinder the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.
Can earwax affect your hearing?
Well, yes it can. One of the most common issues connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting in. The issue usually goes away when the earwax is extracted, and normally, your hearing will return to normal.
But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s usually not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you disregard the symptoms), the bigger the risk of long-term damage.
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 buildup is caused not by excess production but by incorrect cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will often compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually causing a blockage).
Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, thick, 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.