Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inevitably use your “parent voice”. Maybe when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also excellent advice. Uncontrolled earwax accumulation can cause a significant number of problems, particularly for your hearing. And on top of that, earwax can solidify 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, kind of gross. And we’re not going to attempt to change your mind about that. But it’s actually important for the health of your ears. Earwax is manufactured by glands in 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 right amount of earwax. It might seem weird, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

The problems start when your ears generate too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy amount of earwax begins to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? Earwax that gets out of hand and, over time, builds up, can cause several problems. Those problems include:

  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. In some cases, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. So when excess ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing you to feel dizzy.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common signs of excess earwax. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, sometimes it can). This is normally a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.
  • 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 accumulates inside your ear.

These are only a few. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you use hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. This means that you may think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a little bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be impacted by earwax?

Well, yes it can. One of the most typical issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will usually return to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, particularly if the buildup gets severe enough. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for example, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of removing it, eventually leading to a blockage).

It will often require professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. 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 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.