What You Need to Know About Earwax Accumulation

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to clean your ears. Whenever you say that, you unavoidably use your “parent voice”. Perhaps you even remember getting that advice as a child. As you get caught 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 affected by an overabundance of earwax. Even worse, this organic substance can harden in place making it challenging to clean out. Bottom line, you’ll be best off keeping those ears clean.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, sort of gross. That’s a viewpoint that most people share. But it’s actually important for the health of your ears. Created by special glands in your ear and churned outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dirt and dust out of your ears.

In other words, the correct amount of earwax can help keep your ears healthy and clean. However counterintuitive it seems, the reality is that earwax itself isn’t a sign of poor hygiene.

The problems begin when your ears generate too much earwax. And it can be fairly difficult to know if the amount of earwax being generated is healthy or too much.

What is the consequence of excess earwax?

So, what kind of impact does excess earwax have? There are several problems that could arise as a result of out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those issues include:

  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re usually suffering from a condition called tinnitus. Earwax accumulation can cause tinnitus symptoms to worsen or to emerge.
  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. If fluid builds up, it can become trapped behind impacted earwax.
  • Dizziness: Your ability to maintain balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when accumulated ear wax causes your inner ear to get out of whack, your balance can suffer, causing dizziness.
  • Earache: One of the most prevalent signs of excess earwax is an earache. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that much, and other times it can hurt a lot. This is typically a result of the earwax creating pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.

This list is only the beginning. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can earwax affect your hearing?

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

But if the accumulation becomes extreme, long term damage can occur. And tinnitus is also usually temporary but when earwax blockage lingers, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring 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 excess production but by incorrect cleaning (a cotton swab, for instance, will often compress the earwax in your ear instead of getting rid of it, eventually leading to a blockage).

Often, the wax has gotten hard, thick, and unmovable without professional help. The sooner you receive that help, the sooner you’ll be capable of hearing again (and the sooner you’ll be capable of 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.