Ear wax, or cerumen, is a waxy oil produced within the ear canal that plays a vital role in shielding our ears from dust and foreign particles whilst also protecting the skin in the ear canal from irritation. However, whilst ear wax is extremely important to the overall health of our ears, too much of a good thing isn’t always good! Excessive build-up of earwax can lead to earwax blockage, in turn triggering hearing problems such as temporary hearing loss and tinnitus. So what causes earwax build-up?
Causes of earwax build-up
Natural overproduction: In certain cases, some individuals are simply more prone to overproducing earwax. If the glands in the ear canal secrete too much earwax and it doesn’t clear naturally, this can eventually lead to an excessive build-up of wax.
At-home removal methods: The excessive production of earwax alone doesn’t necessarily lead to an earwax blockage. In many cases, an earwax blockage occurs when excessive production is combined with at-home removal methods. Have you ever been told not to use cotton swabs to remove earwax? This is because cotton swabs and smaller objects can push wax deeper into the ear, causing a blockage as a result.
Natural aging: As we age, natural changes to the ear and earwax itself can cause the earwax “evacuation” process to slow down. This is why elderly individuals frequently suffer from earwax blockages.
Headphones: Individuals who regularly wear headphones and other hearing devices may be more prone to earwax blockage. This is because earphones can prevent or stall the natural clearing process. This is why it’s important to regularly visit your audiologist if you’ve been fitted with a hearing aid to ensure your hearing isn’t being further impacted by earwax blockage.
Symptoms of earwax blockage
Partial hearing loss: If too much earwax becomes compacted in the ear canal, this can result in temporary hearing loss and the distortion of sounds. If you’ve noticed voices are becoming more muffled, this may be a sign you need to see a doctor to remove excessive wax.
A feeling of fullness in your ears: As earwax builds up in the ear canal, you may experience a feeling of fullness in the ears.
Tinnitus: Whilst not the only cause of the condition, tinnitus is another common symptom of earwax blockage. If you’ve noticed a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear, you should organise a consultation with your local audiologist to identify any potential triggers.
Ear pain: If an earwax blockage is left untreated, you may begin to experience persistent pain in the ears. If you’re developing regular earaches, you may need to visit your audiologist to get to the root of the problem.
Professional advice from your Perth audiologists
Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of earwax blockage and hearing loss or simply seeking advice on how best to care for your hearing solution, the experienced audiologists at The Art of Hearing clinics offer high quality hearing advice and solutions at our five conveniently located hearing clinics in Perth.
Organise a consultation today with our experienced Perth audiologists.