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Can Ear Wax Cause Tinnitus?


Tinnitus is defined as hearing sound without any external sound stimuli present and it manifests itself as ringing, clicking or hissing in your ears. The constant sound can lead to difficulties like loss of concentration, anxiety and even depression.

Tinnitus is not actually a disease, but a symptom, caused by several different things, which makes it hard to diagnose precisely. The most common reason behind tinnitus is hearing loss caused by noise. Other causes might be ear infections, taking certain medications, previous head injury and emotional stress. Earwax buildups are also the cause of many ear ailments, tinnitus being one of them, but how are they really related?

The Link Between Earwax and Tinnitus

Glands inside the ear canal secrete cerumen, as the medical professionals name the waxy substance, to protect our ears by intercepting dirt and foreign bodies and form a protective layer against bacteria and water. This process is self-regulating and takes care of the excess earwax by pushing it outwards with the help of jaw movement, so generally no extra cleaning is needed for our ears to function normally.

Most people experience no problems with earwax during their lives, but that doesn’t mean complications never occur. An excess of the substance, if not properly removed, can build up and become impacted. Such earwax blockages form because of many reasons, some people simply produce more earwax than others and people with dry type of cerumen are more likely to experience buildups. Blockages can also be caused by improper wax removal. Using ear hygiene products like cotton swabs can have exactly the opposite effect, instead of cleaning the wax, it can be pushed further inside the ear canal where it causes an impaction. We have just recently published an article about the best ear cleaning tools to use instead of cotton swabs. You will find more information about tools you can use to be on the safe side when cleaning your ears.

Excess earwax, impacted against the eardrum, creates pressure and is often the cause of tinnitus. The condition can be very agitating and can seriously affect your mood and your ability to concentrate. There is a definite relation between earwax and tinnitus, so if you are experiencing ringing in your ears, be sure to visit your general physician or an otorhinolaryngologistto check your ears and rule out earwax as the root of the problem.

Earwax Buildup Symptoms

As mentioned previously, earwax buildups can cause many complications with your ears. They impede the passage of sound, cause hearing loss, pain in the ear, irritation or itchiness and even spells of dizziness, by affecting the workings of the inner ear, which acts as the center for balance. Ringing in the ears is a possible sign of earwax impaction, along with odor and occasional discharges.

Such symptoms warrant the condition to be addressed as quickly as possible, ignoring the problem will only make matters worse and can even result in an unpleasant ear infection. While there are methods to remove the excess earwax by yourself, visiting your doctor is highly recommended to properly assess the situation and decide on the best way to treat the problem. There are also tools you can use at home to clean your ears. One of the best tools which are also used by doctors is the ear irrigator and the Elephant Ear Washer. Both of the tools clean ear wax building using water pressure. Water is injected in your ear canal under high pressure and cleans the inside of your ear once it gets inside.

There are also other similar tools like the endoscope ear pick, and the smart swab tool which are both working based on the same principles.

Treating Impacted Earwax

Removing the earwax, when it creates a blockage, is imperative to clean the ear canal and prevent further complications. This can be achieved using several different methods, which are not all equally effective and without risks.

Cerumenolytic, earwax solving or softening drops are the least invasive method of earwax removal, usually based on a type of oil or hydrogen peroxide. Drops should be used 2 to 3 times daily, in the period of 3 to 5 days. They soften the earwax enough to be easily dislodged and are often used in combination with other methods.

Ear irrigation can be performed with a syringe or a special irrigation device. Warm water or a saline mixture is used to wash the ear canal and remove any excess earwax and debris.

Curettes can be used to physically dislodge and scoop up the earwax. They are very effective with dry type of cerumen, as it flakes easily. Using utensils like curettes and cotton swabs should be left to trained professionals, since their careless use can result in abrasion, pushing the wax further in and even perforating the eardrum.

The methods described above vary in their effectiveness and carry certain risks, especially when attempted by untrained individuals. Practices like ear candling should always be avoided, as they are ineffective and dangerous. It is highly recommended to visit your general physician or an ear specialist to perform the earwax removal and avoid any further complications and unwanted side effects. Another reason to enlist the help of professionals is that people often do not thoroughly inspect the ear after cleaning, to make sure they removed all of the wax. If the wax is not removed completely, the buildup will soon reappear and make conditions like the troublesome tinnitus possible again.

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