There are many unique causes of hearing loss. Whether caused by head trauma, repeated exposure to loud noises, or related to getting older, there are many different types and severity levels of hearing loss. But did you know that hearing loss can also be related to excessive ear wax building up?
While perfectly natural (and even beneficial for your ears), excessive ear wax can lead to tinnitus, hearing loss, or other issues. But what causes excessive ear wax? What are the symptoms of this hearing issue? And if you do experience ear wax build up, what should you do?
To answer these questions and more, we’re taking a closer look at ear wax, what it does, how it protects your ears, and why some people experience excessive ear wax build up. We then look at how audiologists have developed procedures that can help individuals with ear wax build up find relief.
WHAT IS EAR WAX?
Also known as cerumen, ear wax is a naturally occurring substance created by glands in the ear canal. While excessive ear wax building up in your ear canal can lead to hearing issues, cerumen actually plays an important role in protecting your ear and hearing health. Ear wax protects your ears in two important ways. First, ear wax traps dust and bacteria and prevents these substances from entering the delicate inner ear. Secondly, ear wax protects the skin of your ear canal from irritation.
WHAT CAUSES EAR WAX BUILD UP?
While naturally occurring, too much ear wax can become problematic. For some individuals, the glands in your inner ear produce too much cerumen, making it difficult for the ears to naturally flush it away. Over time, this excessive wax hardens in the ear canal and creates a blockage. This build up in the ear canal can lead to hearing loss and other hearing problems, including tinnitus or ear pain.
While it may seem like you can just simply dig out the excessive wax when this occurs, most health professionals advise against attempting to do this on your own. When trying to clear out their ears, many individuals end up pushing the wax back further into the ear canal and creating even more blockage.
CAN EAR WAX BUILD UP CAUSE HEARING LOSS?
In short, yes. Ear wax build up is one of the leading causes of hearing loss for individuals of any age. Anyone can experience ear wax blockage because this issue is based primarily on the productivity of the glands in your inner ear. This makes it a difficult hearing issue to predict. Luckily, however, ear wax build up is also one of the most easily treated causes of hearing loss. In most cases, the symptoms and associated hearing loss will only be temporary.
EAR WAX BUILD UP SYMPTOMS
In addition to hearing loss, excessive ear wax can cause additional symptoms that make daily life uncomfortable or could even require you to visit a doctor or audiologist. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with ear wax build up:
- Decreased level of hearing.
- Fullness or a clogged feeling in your ears.
- Earaches and pain.
If you believe you’re experiencing ear wax build up, don’t try to remedy the situation on your own. While ear wax normally drains without any needed intervention (like while you’re in the shower), at times you may need the assistance of a doctor.
Additionally, the ear canal is a very delicate part of your body, meaning you shouldn’t simply try to dig out the ear wax by yourself. This could easily lead to additional damage to your ears and hearing.
EAR WAX REMOVAL PROCESS
An ear wax removal treatment is a very effective way to flush out excessive ear wax and restore your hearing health. During this process, a doctor or audiologist will first use an otoscope to examine your inner ear. This important first step ensures that ear wax is indeed the cause of your hearing problems.
Next, the doctor will remove the excessive wax, which can be done in a few different ways. A doctor may use a small medical instrument called a curet to remove the excess wax from your ear canal. Alternative methods for flushing out the wax include the use of a suction device or a water pick to clean out the ear. Following this procedure, most patients find immediate relief from their ear wax build up symptoms.
Ear wax removal treatments can be performed regularly; however, for those with chronic ear wax build up, doctors may prescribe medication to help reduce the cerumen. Generally, this medication is administered in the form of ear drops. These drops should only be applied as directed because your inner ear, as previously mentioned, is extremely delicate. Overuse or misuse of any medication can result in more serious hearing problems.
CONCLUSION – CAN EAR WAX BUILD UP CAUSE HEARING LOSS?
While ear wax is natural and beneficial for your ears, too much ear wax can lead to hearing loss, ear pain and discomfort, or hearing problems like tinnitus. If an ear wax build up is causing you pain or hearing loss, you should consult a doctor to determine the best treatment option. It’s important that you do not attempt to remove the excess wax on your own. In many cases, this makes the issue even worse.
Ear wax removal is a straightforward treatment that can help individuals experiencing ear wax build up. For most individuals, the symptoms and hearing loss associated with excessive ear wax fade away almost immediately following the removal process. If you believe you’re experiencing this condition, contact an audiologist right away.