What You Should Understand About Earwax Accumulation

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”. Perhaps when you were a child you even remember your parents telling you to do it. As you get wrapped up in past nostalgia, that sort of memory can take you back to simpler times.

But it’s also excellent advice. Out-of-control earwax accumulation can cause a substantial number of problems, especially for your hearing. Still worse, this organic substance can solidify in place making it challenging to clean out. In a nutshell, the clearer you keep your ears, the better off you’ll be.

Excessive earwax? Eww!

Earwax is, well, kind of gross. And we’re not going to try to change your mind about that. But it is actually important for the health of your ears. Created by special glands in your ear and pushed outwards by the chewing motions of your jaw, earwax can help keep dust and dirt out of your ears.

So your ears will remain clean and healthy when they produce the ideal amount of earwax. However counterintuitive it sounds, the truth is that earwax itself is not a sign of bad hygiene.

The problems begin when your ears produce too much earwax. And, understandably, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when a healthy quantity of earwax begins to outweigh its usefulness (literally).

What is the consequence of excess earwax?

So, what develops as a result of accumulated earwax? Earwax that gets out of control and, over time, accumulates, can cause several issues. Those issues include:

  • Infection: Excess earwax can lead to ear infections. Sometimes, that’s because the earwax can trap fluid where it ought not to be.
  • Tinnitus: When you hear buzzing and ringing that isn’t really there, you’re usually suffering from a condition known as tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms can show up or get worse when earwax accumulates inside your ear.
  • 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 common signs of accumulated earwax is an earache. It doesn’t have to hurt a lot (though, in some cases it can). This is typically a result of the earwax producing pressure somewhere it shouldn’t.

This list is just the beginning. Neglected earwax can trigger painful headaches. If you wear hearing aids, excess earwax can interfere with them. So excessive earwax might make you think your hearing aids are malfunctioning.

Can earwax impact your hearing?

Well, yes it can. Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent problems linked to excess earwax. When earwax accumulates in the ear canal it causes a blockage of sound causing a kind of hearing loss called conductive hearing loss. The problem usually goes away when the earwax is eliminated, and normally, your hearing will go back to normal.

But if the accumulation becomes severe, long term damage can happen. The same is true of earwax-related tinnitus. It’s typically temporary. But the longer the excess earwax hangs around (that is, the longer you neglect the symptoms), the greater the risk of long-term damage.

Prevention, treatment, or both?

If you want to safeguard your hearing, then it seems logical to keep an eye on your earwax. It’s incorrect cleaning, not excess production that causes buildup in most situations (for instance, blockage is often a result of cotton swabs, which tend to press the earwax further in instead of removing it).

Often, the wax has become hardened, dense, and unmovable 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 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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