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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Earwax Buildup

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Earwax Buildup


Symptoms of Earwax Buildup

When cerumen, otherwise known as earwax, excessively accumulates in your ear canal, it can cause discomfort and even temporary hearing loss.


Still, ear wax is natural, secreted by a gland in your inner ear, and it helps protect your ears from organisms, water, particulates, and generally icky germs.


Just having a minor buildup of earwax isn’t a condition, but if wax creates a blockage, or your attempts to clean your ears pushes the wax deeper, it can lead to a possibly serious complication and permanently affect your hearing.


The following symptoms may indicate an ear infection or other illness:


  • Constant ear pain
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Hearing loss
  • Odor in your ear canal

Causes of Earwax Buildup

Be careful about removing earwax unnecessarily. Doctors recommend leaving your naturally occurring earwax alone, even if you’re prone to the occasional buildup of excess wax. Some individuals do experience greater wax buildup because of:


  • Age, which hardens wax
  • Narrow ear canals
  • Use of hearing aids or ear plugs, which pushes wax deeper


If you notice an excessive wax buildup a simple procedure can remove extra wax. Otherwise, you might be causing bigger problems for yourself by inserting a cotton swab or other object too deep into your ear canal. You could even possibly damage your eardrum.

Should I Be Worried?

It’s best to leave your earwax alone. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:


  • Bleeding ears
  • Constant ringing sound
  • Loss of hearing


Schedule an earwax visit online or from our iOS app today.


Find a neighborhood ZOOM+Care clinic near you in Portland, Seattle, Salem, or Vancouver.

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Earwax Buildup Prevention Tips


Consider these tips to help prevent earwax accumulation:


  • Stop poking around. Look, we know most people ignore the medical advice to stop cleaning ear wax with cotton swabs. But the chances of causing greater damage to your ear mean you should really knock it off. If you think you need earwax removed, schedule a visit at a ZOOM+Care clinic.
  • Take headphone breaks. It’s hard to not jam out at work all day, but if you’re constantly wearing in-ear headphones, you might be contributing to a buildup of wax.
  • Try non-prescription products. Talk to a doctor before attempting to use any unknown medication or treatment for your ears, but some non-prescription products can soften earwax and reduce the chances of a buildup. Ask your pharmacist for brand recommendations.

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