What You Should Know About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps when you were a kid you even remember 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 that advice can be pretty helpful. Out-of-control earwax buildup can cause a substantial number of issues, particularly for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify 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!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But it is actually essential for your ear’s health. Earwax is manufactured 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.

So your ears will stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of bad hygiene.

Too much 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 is the consequence of excess earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can cause a number of issues. Here are a few:

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is an affliction where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This normally happens when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can be affected, causing dizziness.

These are only a few. Headaches and pain can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Excessive earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. This means that you might think your hearing aids are malfunctioning when the real issue 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 connected to excess earwax. Usually producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will typically go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But there can be sustained damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets severe enough. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s usually temporary. But the longer the extra earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. In many circumstances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excess production but by improper cleaning (for example, blockage is frequently a result of cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in rather than removing it).

It will often require professional removal of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of it. The sooner you get that help, 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.