What You Should Know About Earwax Buildup

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you take a shower, always remember to clean your ears. It’s difficult not to say that in your “parenting” 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 take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

But that advice can be rather helpful. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by an overabundance of earwax. And on top of that, earwax can solidify inside your ear and become really hard to clean. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax is not the most pleasing of materials. That’s an opinion that most people share. But it is actually essential for your ear’s health. Earwax is produced by glands in your ears and is then pushed out when you chew in order to keep your ears free of dirt and dust.

In other words, the right amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. It might seem strange, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

An excessive amount of earwax is where the trouble begins. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a little bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax starts to outweigh its advantages (literally).

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what develops as a consequence of accumulated earwax? There are several problems that could develop due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that builds up over time. Those issues include:

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a phantom buzzing or ringing in your ears. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to appear.
  • Earache: One of the most common signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt too much (though, in some cases it can). This normally occurs when earwax is causing pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is vital to your balance. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having trouble.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can get trapped behind plugged earwax.

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

Can earwax affect your hearing?

The quick answer is yes. One of the most typical problems connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually causing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting in. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleaned out.

But if the buildup becomes extreme, permanent damage can occur. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage persists, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become a lasting condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

It’s a good plan to keep an eye on your earwax if you want to protect your hearing. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that leads to buildup in most situations (a cotton swab, for instance, will frequently compact the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually leading to a blockage).

It will often call for professional eradication of the wax that has become solidified to the point that you can’t remove it. You’ll be able to start hearing again as soon as you get that treatment and then you can start over, cleaning your ears the right 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.