Ear Wax Buildup: What You Need to be Aware of

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

Don’t forget to wash your ears. It’s hard 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 caught up in past nostalgia, that kind of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also great advice. Your hearing can be significantly impacted by out-of-control earwax. Still worse, this organic compound can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Okay, earwax is not the most appealing of materials. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But earwax does have a purpose. Earwax is made by glands inside of 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 may seem peculiar, but earwax doesn’t suggest poor hygiene.

The problems start when your ears produce too much earwax. And, naturally, it can sometimes be a bit challenging to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax starts to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What is the impact of excess earwax?

So, what type of impact does excess earwax present? There are several problems that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Here are a few:

  • Infection: Excessive earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can lock in fluid where it shouldn’t be.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to manage balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to have issues, your balance can suffer, causing dizziness.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most common symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can really hurt. This usually occurs when earwax is creating pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t actually there, you’re probably dealing with a condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax is built up inside your ear.

These are just a few. Ignored earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. This means that you might think your hearing aids are having problems when the real issue is a bit too much earwax.

Can your hearing be affected by earwax?

The quick answer is yes. One of the most common issues connected with excess earwax is hearing loss. Usually producing a form of conductive hearing loss, earwax accumulates in the ear canal, preventing sound waves and vibrations from getting very far. The problem usually goes away when the earwax is removed, and usually, your hearing will return to normal.

But there can be long-term damage caused by excess earwax, especially if the buildup gets extreme enough. And tinnitus is also normally temporary but when earwax blockage persists, 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. In many circumstances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by incorrect cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will frequently compress the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).

It will often call for professional eradication of the wax that has become hardened to the point that you can’t get rid of 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 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.

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