Earwax blockage, or “cerumen impaction,” can happen to anyone. When it does, it could lead to temporary loss of hearing in the affected ear.

Earwax Buildup and Hearing Loss

Earwax is our ears’ natural defense against dirt, debris, and infection. It also helps keep our ears lubricated and clean. But if your body produces too much earwax, it can build up and harden, resulting in irritation and, in some cases, hearing loss.

Those most at risk of earwax buildup include individuals 65 or older, those who use hearing assistive devices, and people with narrow or atypical ear canals. Eczema and other skin conditions can also increase your risk, as can the use of cotton swabs or other foreign objects inserted in the ears.

An earwax blockage is one of the more common causes of hearing loss. A 2022 RNID survey, for example, found that 73% of respondents with earwax buildup experienced hearing loss. Fortunately, it is also preventable. You can help minimize earwax buildup at home by applying over-the-counter wax softening drops to your ears. Regular ear exams by a professional hearing care provider can also help prevent this and other complications. Meanwhile, avoid inserting cotton swabs, your fingers, or other external instruments into the ear to remove earwax, as this can push build-up deeper into the ear canal and worsen the blockage.

If you are concerned about earwax buildup and hearing loss, consult with a hearing professional for a tailored treatment plan, general preventative testing, and analysis of your general ear health.

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