Global cotton earbud sales in 2017 amounted to a staggering 543.75 billion units, or 69 times the world population. Clearly, cleaning ears is a popular pastime, except for several common misconceptions we chew over here.
Firstly, earbuds are ‘cotton buds’ if we ever read the labels, which by the way may add ‘do not insert in ear’. And secondly, Harvard Health Medicine has three reasons to leave earwax alone.
However, Mayo Clinic throws a spanner in the works by saying ear wax can cause hearing loss. So what is ear wax really up to in our ear canals? Should we leave it alone? Is there such a thing as earwax hearing loss, we wondered.
What Is Earwax Doing in My Ear Canal?
The skin lining of our ear canals secretes earwax naturally. It helps keep the skin clean as it moves towards the outer ear, while its waxy characteristics keep water, bacteria and fungi at bay.
This means it is not something we should be ‘deep mining’ with a cotton bud. No not at all.
However, some of us have over-enthusiastic sebaceous and ceruminous glands that produce more wax than they should. This ‘loss of hearing earwax’ backs up in the affected person’s ear canal, like rush hour traffic on a weekday morning.
We called it ‘loss of hearing earwax’ because that’s exactly what it is. Earwax build up is bad for hearing because it obstructs sound waves moving from the outer ear to the eardrum. If not treated, this ‘impacted earwax’ could:
- Cause conductive earwax hearing loss
- Lead to an infection causing earache
- Result in itching, coughing and / or feeling dizzy
- Create the impression the ear is blocked
- Cause tinnitus ringing noises in the ear canal
Wikipedia says wax build up hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal and poor work performance if left untreated. We (and Wikipedia) are not qualified to provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor or clinic if you suspect you may have earwax build up that’s bad for hearing.
However, if you have small lumps of wax in your outer ear bowl other people can see, and it worries you then you can gently remove it with a cotton bud. Hold this where the tip joins the stem so you have little or no chance of reaching your eardrum.
More Advice From the Folks at Mayo Clinic
We found great information to share when we googled can earwax cause hearing loss and clicked on Mayo. Mayo says we should be careful of assuming we have earwax hearing loss and other symptoms, and trying to clear it ourselves.
They quite strongly recommend consulting a health professional before taking chances with our precious hearing. For all we know we may have an underlying medical condition that syringing our ears could make worse.
The best person to clear earwax build up bad for hearing is your family doctor. This is especially, even vitally important if you had eardrum surgery, or grommets fitted to drain water from your inner ear.
Surprisingly Few People are Hard of Hearing from Earwax
Starkey says loss of hearing earwax is a lot less common than you may expect. In fact, most Americans consulting health professionals about their hearing don’t have the problem at all.
They are far more likely to have experienced mild to moderate hearing loss over several decades as they naturally aged. Until they reached the point they were sufficiently frustrated to find out what hearing aids cost.
However, There’s Help at Hand If You Do Have Earwax Hearing Loss
It’s usually not necessary to see an audiology adviser, or general surgeon, if you have earwax build up that’s bad for hearing. Your family doctor, or nurse at the clinic will know how to clear cerumen impaction as they call it, or which self-treatment to recommend.
We suggest you avoid the temptation of ordering a ‘miracle cure’ over the internet. That’s because it will be too late to learn you have only one pair of ears, if you make a bad decision and something goes wrong.
What If You Don’t Have Wax Build Up Causing Hard of Hearing
If you have natural-aged mild to moderate hearing loss you have two choices. You could put up with it, keep arguing with your spouse, and continue fighting with store clerk at checkouts.
Or you could order a pair of digital hearing aids from Blue Angels Hearing for a specially discounted price of less than US $200, including shipping to your door. Thousands of satisfied clients admit to being ‘pleasantly supplied’ by the improvement to their hearing. We’d love to be able to say we did that for you too.