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 type 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 significantly affected by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic compound can harden in place making it difficult to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clear.
Excessive earwax? Eww!
Earwax is, well, kind of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But it is actually essential for your ear’s health. Created by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by your jaw’s chewing motion, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.
So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the truth is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.
The problems start when your ears produce too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a little bit difficult to tell when a healthy amount of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).
What does excess earwax do?
So, what happens as a consequence of accumulated earwax? There are numerous problems that may develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Here are a few:
- Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having trouble.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This is normally a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
- Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Tinnitus symptoms can appear or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.
- Infection: Infections can be the consequence of excessive earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
This list is only the beginning. Ignored earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are having problems.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
Well, yes it can. One of the most typical problems associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally producing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The problem normally clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.
But if the buildup becomes severe, long term damage can appear. The same goes for earwax-related tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the greater the danger of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. In many cases, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which will press the earwax further in instead of removing it).
It will usually call for professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t remove it. The sooner you get that treatment, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of cleaning your ears the right way).