What causes ear wax to build up?

An excessive build-up of earwax can occur for multiple reasons. You maybe naturally more susceptible to the condition than others, but the most frequent cause stems from the use of cotton buds to clean the ear. Despite best intentions, you may not realise that by placing an object directly into your ear canal, you are actually pushing wax further into the ear where it can compact, greatly increasing its risk of forming a problematic obstruction.

Instead, it is advised that you only clean the exterior of your ear with a damp cloth, and allow ear drops or use a wax softening spray to cleanse inside your ear, if your doctor or local Audiologist suggests that it’s necessary. Earwax blockages affect around 6% of the population and are one of the most common ear-related health concerns that doctors see. The condition can be very easily treated.

Your risk of developing an earwax blockage can also be heightened by:

  • Narrow or partially formed ear canals
  • Hard impacted wax, either as a result of cotton bud cleaning or  incorrect use of ear plugs, which prevent wax from moving out naturally
  • A history of earwax issues
  • Repeated ear infections
  • Osetomata - bony growths in the ear canal
  • Excess hair in the ear canals
  • Learning difficulties (the reason for which is currently unknown)
  • Natural ageing process - earwax becomes drier as you get older

Earwax build up should be painless, but may cause slight twinges or irritations if left untreated. If you are experiencing any pain, a spinning sensation or are persistently vomiting with a high fever, it is important that you see a doctor right away, as these could well be signs of a more serious ear infection or perforation.

Even if you do suspect a perforation and earwax impaction simultaneously, it is important that you let your local doctor know, because it will affect the sort of treatment that is suitable to you to remove the wax.

To learn more about the treatments, symptoms and preventative measures for excessive earwax build up, visit our relevant pages.

What is Ear wax?

As one of the body's many naturally-occurring protective substances, earwax is incredibly useful to our health and wellbeing. Find out more about what ear wax is or you can speak to one of our experts at your local Amplifon store.

Read more

What are the symptoms of Ear wax?

It's important to know how much ear wax is 'normal' for your ears, and be vigilant to any changes.  Find out more about the signs and symptoms of ear wax or you can speak to one of our experts at your local Amplifon store.

Read more

What available treatments are there for ear wax?

Treatments for earwax removal are normally quite straightforward.  Find out more about the treatments available for ear wax or you can speak to one of our experts at your local Amplifon store.

Read more

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