Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe when you were a child you even recall 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 it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be substantially impacted by out-of-control 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!
We get it, earwax isn’t the most pleasing of materials. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is produced by glands inside of your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.
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 is not a sign of bad hygiene.
Too much earwax is where the trouble begins. And it can be fairly difficult to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.
What is the impact of accumulated earwax?
So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, accumulates, can lead to several problems. Those problems include:
- Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.
- Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
- Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is usually a result of the earwax producing pressure someplace it shouldn’t.
- Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
These are just a few. Headaches and discomfort can happen because of uncontrolled earwax accumulation. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are having problems.
Can earwax impact your hearing?
Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected to excess earwax. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. The problem normally clears up when the earwax is eliminated, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.
But if the buildup becomes severe, permanent damage can develop. The same is true of earwax-caused tinnitus. It’s normally not permanent. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you ignore the symptoms), the bigger the danger of long-term damage.
Prevention, treatment, or both?
If you want to protect your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s improper cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most cases (for instance, blockage is often caused by cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in instead of removing it).
Frequently, the wax has gotten hard, dense, and unable to clear 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.