The Problems with Too Much Earwax

Audiologist, model of the ear.

Everyone gets wax in their ears from time to time Perhaps you’ve taken out your headphones and noticed they’re covered in orangebrown goo or maybe someone has pointed out that your ears need a clean It can be unpleasant and annoying but usually there is nothing to worry about

Earwax is an oily substance properly known as cerumen that is produced by the ear canal to protect your ear from dust microorganisms and other foreign particles It also helps shield your ear from irritation and infection caused by the entrance of water It is there for a reason and its presence indicates healthy functioning of your auditory system

But it is still possible to have too much earwax Usually when earwax builds up it can find its way out of the canal and into the opening of the ear where it becomes visible More often than not this isn’t a problem and it will be washed away in a shower or bath However if the amount of wax produced is excessive it can harden and create a blockage which may lead to further problems down the line

Why Does Earwax Build Up?

There are many reasons why you might have a buildup of wax within your ear including:

  • Genetics: For a start some people are just naturally more prone to higher levels of earwax than others This means you will have to clean your ears more often and leaving them untreated is more likely to create a blockage 
  • Improper cleaning: If you clean your ears with cotton swabs or other objects you could be doing more harm than good These items can actually push wax deeper into your ear canal and make it almost impossible to remove by hand
  • Using earphones: If you like to listen to music then this could be the reason for your excessive wax Inear headphones can prevent wax from escaping the ear canal and lead it to build up deep within the ear Using headphones that go over your ears will prevent this from happening

What Are the Problems with too Much Earwax?

If you have impacted earwax that is left untreated it could eventually lead to a range of different health complications Here are some of the potential risks An excessive amount of earwax can lead to irritation and potentially infection of the inner ear This can often be treated with antibiotics and wax removal but in rare cases it can lead to much more severe complications like meningitis or cranial paralysis

When your ears are full of wax it is often tempting to stick a cotton swab or even a finger deep inside your ear to remove it But this is a risky move as you could make the blockage worse and you may even penetrate too deeply and damage the eardrum in the process

A wax buildup could make it difficult for potential health issues to be diagnosed If you are getting a hearing checkup and a doctor is looking into your ear canal they miss a red flag because there is too much wax in the way

One of the most common symptoms of an earwax blockage is hearing loss Too much cerumen building up inside your ear canal will prevent sound from entering and you may notice difficulty hearing conversations or the television Usually this is temporary and your hearing will return to normal once the wax has been removed However the other risks mentioned such as infection or selfinflicted injury can themselves cause hearing loss if you are not careful

What Can You Do to Reduce Wax Buildup?

These potential risks may sound scary but fortunately an abundance of earwax is very easy to treat It’s important to note that you should not attempt to dig out wax from your ear canal by yourself as you may cause significant damage to your ear Other common forms of treatment such as suction devices and ear candling are not recommended by hearing instrument specialist HIS

If you want to remove wax from your inner ear here are some of the best treatments:

  • Earwax softening: There are a number of overthecounter products that can soften earwax which will help break down a blockage and enable wax to escape into your outer ear Only then is it safe for you to clean it yourself These products include mineral oil and hydrogen peroxide drops
  • Ear irrigation: By cleaning out the ear canal with water it is possible to drain wax from the canal You can purchase irrigation kits from most pharmacies but you should talk to your doctor before attempting this as it can be unsafe if you’ve had an ear injury or infection in the past
  • See a hearing instrument specialist: By far the safest method to remove earwax is to have a cleaning performed by your HIS Book in a regular checkup with a hearing instrument specialist and you can ensure your ears remain in good health 

To learn more about the causes and symptoms of hearing loss contact Beltone Hearing Center in Lethbridge at 4039424327