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The Problems with Too Much Earwax

woman sitting for a hearing examination in specialist clinic

Most of us know of earwax as that somewhat gross-looking (and smelling!) slimy and yellowish substance our ears produce, but not much more than that. Also known as cerumen, earwax does actually serve a purpose other than making us feel a little queasy. Our bodies produce it in order to protect, lubricate and fight bacteria within the inner ear.

Usually, when earwax builds up, the excess begins to flake off outside of the eardrum. However, it’s also true that sometimes, the build-up of too much earwax can occur, causing problems. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon issue.

If left untreated over time, earwax buildup can become worse and display several symptoms. This can also become exacerbated by faulty impressions of how to properly deal with this. For instance, you’re most likely aware of the cotton swab method of cleaning your ear.

However, contrary to popular belief, this cleaning method is absolutely discouraged by audiologists. This is because instead of clearing the earwax, these tools tend to push it down and compress it within the ear canal. Your small cleaning bud should never enter that canal in order to preserve your hearing capabilities.

But what are the noticeable symptoms of earwax buildup and what can be done about it? Here, we'll take a look.

Hearing Loss

While earwax might not signal hearing loss in the sense of damaging your ear permanently, it can certainly block the ear canal and as such prevent your hearing clarity, dampening the volume of exterior sounds.

If experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to talk to an audiologist to potentially identify the source and talk through common solutions that can be faced. In many cases, dealing with the earwax as a matter of principle is important, because seeing into your ear and diagnosing potential further conditions is interrupted when wax is present.

Discomfort and Pain

A buildup of earwax is not healthy, and can cause discomfort, pain and even infections within the inner ear. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that when you notice an earwax issue, you speak to an audiologist. They may be able to book you in for certain ear cleaning procedures or provide you ear drop solutions that help break up and soften the earwax for later removal.

Tinnitus and Ringing

Earwax can also cause tinnitus and ringing in the ear, which is frustrating for anyone. This may amount to an intermittent ringing in the ears, or severe ringing irritation which can cause significant distress. 

Tinnitus from earwax, thankfully, is by and large temporary until the issue is resolved. However, when earwax is impacted, as in when starts causing issues and if contributed to by using the previously discussed cotton swabs to possibly cause damage within the ear canal, this problem may persist.

Dizziness

Your inner ear provides significant contribution to your overall ability to balance. When earwax builds up, as a consequence of this, dizziness can be felt. This might seem like a light symptom, but when trying to go about your daily business, dizziness striking out of nowhere can see very distressing.

Ear Fullness

Of course, you may or may not experience the above symptoms of too much earwax being present, but one thing is certain, an uncomfortable feeling of fullness in the ear can occur if this issue is not resolved in due time.

As this is a gradual process, most people don’t realize how bad it has gotten until they have their ears cleaned or soften the wax with a solution. Then, they realize the burden they’ve been carrying around, and are thankful they looked to measures designed to resolve it.

Visiting an Audiologist

Visiting a qualified audiologist is one of the best steps you could take if experiencing any form of hearing loss. They can help assess your needs, identify conditions and take further steps from there. In some cases, they can help fit you with an appropriate hearing aid device to ensure that any damage to the ear is ameliorated in terms of your hearing ability.

What matters is finding an audiologist worth your time. At The Center for Audiology, we have a knowledgeable team in place to treat your concerns, whether they involve hearing aids, hearing loss or simply a buildup of earwax. To learn more about our team and the services we provide, give us a call at 713-255-0035 for Houston, or 713-800-5050 for Pearland.