Ear Wax Accumulation: What You Need to Understand

Woman suffering from earwax blockage applying ear drops herself

When you shower, always remember to wash your ears. Whenever you say that, you inescapably use your “parent voice”. Maybe you even remember getting that advice as a child. That’s the kind of memory that can take you back to simpler times as you wrap yourself in the nostalgia of childhood.

But that advice can be pretty helpful. Uncontrolled earwax buildup can cause a substantial 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. In other words, the cleaner you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

We get it, earwax isn’t the most appealing of materials. That’s an opinion that most individuals share. But it is actually essential for the health of your ears. Earwax is made 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 ideal amount of earwax can help keep your ears clean and healthy. It might seem weird, but earwax doesn’t indicate poor hygiene.

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

What does accumulated earwax do?

So, what develops as a result of excess earwax? There are several issues that may arise due to out-of-control earwax or earwax that accumulates over time. Those issues include:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is essential to your balance. You can suffer from bouts of dizziness and balance issues when your inner ear is having issues.
  • Earache: An earache is one of the most prevalent symptoms of excess earwax. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt that bad, and other times it can hurt a lot. This typically happens when earwax is causing pressure in places where it shouldn’t be.
  • 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.
  • Infection: Infections can be the consequence of excessive earwax. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.

These are only a few. Neglected earwax can cause painful headaches. Excess earwax can interfere with the functionality of hearing aids. So too much earwax may make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

The quick answer is yes. Hearing loss is one of the most common problems connected to excess earwax. When earwax builds up in the ear canal it produces a blockage of sound causing a form of hearing loss known as conductive hearing loss. Your hearing will typically 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 normally temporary but when earwax blockage persists, long-term damage can cause tinnitus to become an enduring condition.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to protect your hearing, then it makes sense to keep an eye on your earwax. In many circumstances, earwax accumulation is caused not by excessive production but by improper cleaning (a cotton swab, for example, will often compress the earwax in your ear rather than getting rid of it, eventually causing a blockage).

Often, the wax has become hardened, dense, and unable to clear without professional help. You’ll be able to start hearing again after 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.