Is it possible that the build-up of earwax could cause hearing loss? If you’ve ever suffered from an earwax build-up, you know how frustrating it can be to have your hearing muffled and impeded for some time. To worry about possible hearing loss is very natural.
Simply put, earwax is the culprit behind many cases of hearing impairment. Indeed, earwax obstruction is the most typical reason for conductive hearing loss. If there’s a lot of wax, it can get stuck and act as a barrier, preventing sound from travelling to the inner ear as it should.
Only rarely does earwax completely block all hearing, but even then, most people can still make out some sounds. But if you find that earwax is making it hard for you to hear and talk, you might want to see an ENT.
Causes of ear wax build-up
A deposit of wax driven further than it should be into the canal can lead to impaction, also known as a blockage. Hearing loss due to impacted earwax is a typical complaint medical professionals hear.
By pushing the residual wax further into the ear canal, cotton swabs and other things like hair clips and rolled-up napkin corners enhance the chance of creating impactions. Earwax build-up is more common in people who regularly use hearing aids or earplugs, which can be frustrating for those people.
Who gets earwax build-up?
Ear wax is a common problem. Ten percent of typical kids and five percent of adults have it. Most cases can be found in the following situations:
- People who use hearing aids, earplugs, or headphones.
- People who have excessive facial hair or skin issues.
- Consumers who use items with cotton swabs.
- Senior citizens.
- People who have an intellectual disability.
- Those who cannot remove ear wax naturally due to a clogged ear canal.
Young people have earwax. If they aren’t making much noise, you should clean their ears. Utilize a washcloth outside. Don’t worry if your kid doesn’t seem to mind having earwax. These indicators may involve ear pulling, putting things in the ear, or hearing issues. If so, see a physician.
Earwax is a common problem for those who wear hearing aids. They might not respond to you at all. Hearing loss is a potential side effect of earwax build-up.
Implications of earwax and its effects
When we hear about earwax, it’s usually with the intent of getting rid of it. Earwax, on the other hand, is not a bad thing. It’s crucial for proper ear function. Pollen, germs, and other particles that might irritate or infect the ear are attracted to and trapped in earwax.
Earwax usually drains out of the ear and needs to be cleaned. The jaw and tongue movements during chewing, speaking, and swallowing effectively break up earwax, allowing it to escape the middle ear.
While earwax is rarely a cause for concern, thanks to our ears’ natural ability to clean themselves, some people may find it unpleasant. True, if you were to remove all the earwax from the inside, your ears would feel dry, itchy, and dull since they would be much more prone to abnormalities.
This will lead to a build-up of earwax that eventually becomes a physical obstruction. The protective layer of the ear is forced to cover itself or become impaled. If the sound is prevented from entering the ear because of the obstacle, hearing loss will result. Most cases of this kind of hearing loss can be reversed by removing the obstructing factor.
The impact of wax blocking
In addition to hearing loss, the following symptoms are indicative of earwax build-up:
- Intense itchiness or irritation in the ear
- A sensation of having one’s ears stuffed or obstructed
- Tinnitus, with an ear bell
If your ENT doctor can’t get rid of any of the above symptoms, it may be time for a thorough ear cleaning.
Treatments and home remedies
The following are some of the methods you can use to treat an ear wax blockage at home:
A cotton ball dipped in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can clean up ear wax. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective antiseptic. A clean eyedropper can also be used. Repairing injured ears requires a brief resting period with the head and neck elevated. The result is a more pristine ear canal.
Just by leaning back for a few minutes, you can help the ear canal drain. Researchers recommend using hydrogen peroxide to remove earwax 30 minutes before ear irrigation. The therapy facilitates the process of cleaning out one’s ears.
Hydrogen peroxide should be handled cautiously, whether in drops or a solution. Hydrogen peroxide can cause skin irritation even when used at diluted doses. Concentrations above 10% may cause skin irritation. If you’re experiencing pain, you should stop using it and visit a doctor. Hydrogen peroxide works on eardrums that are still in good condition, causing a painful perforation of the ear tube.
The same thing can be done with a rubber-bulb syringe. When the infected ear is facing upward, warm water should be injected into the ear canal using a syringe. If you force water into your ear canal, you may experience dizziness. For this reason, warm water is needed.
After one minute, tilt the head to one side to let excess wax and fluid drain out of the ear. Water may be expelled by gently pushing on the person’s ear. Repeats of this may be attempted. If you have ever had an ear injury, especially a perforated eardrum, you should not have this procedure done. This strategy should be avoided at all costs by swimmers.
Various natural alternative treatments
An eyedropper can also be used to administer other chemicals. Other compounds that can be used to remove wax are:
- Baby oil.
- Oil from arachis, almonds, or camphor.
- With petroleum or mineral oil
- A glycerin solution of NaHCO3 at a 10% concentration.
- Acetic acid at a concentration of 2.5%
Tilt your head back and drop a few drops into your affected ear with your ear facing upwards. It is preferable not to insert them until your eardrum is completely healthy or until your doctor says so.
Ways to Cure Hearing Damage from Earwax
If you are trying to remove wax from your ears, you should never try to introduce anything into them or scrub them clean. It’s a bad habit for some people to try to shield their eyes with cotton swabs or other random objects.
Instead of helping to clear out the ear, this only drives the earwax further in. Also, cotton swabs and other things can irritate the ear canal’s interior, causing inflammation and possibly even damaging the eardrum and other delicate ear structures.
Bottom Line: go to a professional to remove excessive earwax.
If you think you might have excess wax in your ears, it’s best to see a doctor. The removal of cerumen is a standard procedure for audiologists’ offices. Several doctors can also remove excessive earwax.
The good news is that a hearing healthcare professional can help you regain your sense of hearing by cleaning your ears. If it doesn’t work, though, an audiologist can help you diagnose and treat the underlying issue that’s causing your hearing loss. That’s great news, too.