Ear Wax Buildup: What You Should Understand

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t neglect cleaning your ears. It’s hard not to say that in your “parenting” voice. Maybe you even recall getting that advice as a kid. As you get caught up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a significant number of issues, especially for your hearing. And on top of that, earwax can harden up inside your ear and become really difficult to clean. 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. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But it is actually important for your ear’s health. 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 stay clean and healthy when they generate the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself is not a sign of poor hygiene.

The troubles start when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be rather difficult to know if the amount of earwax being created is healthy or too much.

What does excess earwax do?

So, what happens as a result of accumulated earwax? There are numerous problems that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those problems include:

  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. You can suffer from episodes of dizziness and balance problems when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can really hurt. This typically happens when earwax is creating pressure in places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Infection: Infections can be the outcome of surplus earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re usually dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Earwax buildup can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.

These are just a few. Ignored earwax can cause painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can impede them. So excessive earwax may make you think your hearing aids are having problems.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

Well, yes it can. One of the most common issues associated with excess earwax is hearing loss. Normally causing a kind of conductive hearing loss, earwax builds up in the ear canal, stopping sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. Your hearing will usually go back to normal after the wax is cleared out.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, long term damage can appear. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, permanent 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. In many instances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which will push the earwax further in instead of getting rid of it).

It will usually 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.