Earwax is essential to keep our ears clean and free from infection or other diseases, but excessive earwax can cause its own problems. Sometimes, if it’s left untreated, excessive earwax can lead to build-ups that can affect our hearing. In fact, some people with excessive earwax notice the ringing or rushing noises that are usually associated with tinnitus.
Here, we take a look at whether tinnitus can be caused by excessive earwax, and what to do if you think you’re affected.
What’s the link between earwax and tinnitus?
We know that excess build-up can result in the ringing sound known as tinnitus, but what exactly causes this symptom?1
Rather than excessive earwax affecting the sound travelling through the ear canal and creating tinnitus sounds, it’s actually the pressure from the impacted wax that excites nerve cells in your middle and inner ear. Your brain reads the signals from these excited nerves as noise, and this is what causes tinnitus.
Can earwax cause ringing in my ears?
A build-up of earwax can result in multiple tinnitus symptoms, including ringing in your ears. This, alongside feelings of fullness in the ear, discomfort or even dizziness, are all signs that you may have impacted earwax that requires treatment.
If you feel that your hearing may be affected, there is a simple, free online test you can do from the comfort of your own home. This isn’t a diagnostic test but is a very good indicator of whether you may need to book an appointment to have your hearing checked further.
Will tinnitus go away after removing earwax?
If your tinnitus has been caused by the compacted earwax then yes, removing the issue should resolve the problem.
But tinnitus is quite a common problem and can be caused by a number of things such as; hearing loss, medical conditions, medications and even stress or anxiety.
If you have other symptoms related to the build-up of earwax and your tinnitus started around the same time, then there is a higher chance your tinnitus is earwax related.
It’s important that you don’t try to remove impacted wax yourself, as this could cause damage to the inside of your ear. Aside from pain, trying to clean or wash out your ears yourself can lead to further impaction and potential damage to the eardrum.
Will tinnitus worsen after removing earwax?
A small number of people can find a temporary increase in their tinnitus after successful treatment. This is simply due to more sound travelling through the ear canal once the blockage has been removed, but the increased sensitivity and tinnitus should resolve by itself relatively quickly.
There are occasional reports that tinnitus symptoms can become worse after earwax removal. We’d always advise against using at-home treatments for earwax removal, including irrigation or candling. When done poorly, do-it-yourself remedies can further irritate the ear and its delicate components, which risk making your symptoms worse. That’s why it’s best to see a healthcare professional who can do this safely.
What should I do if I have excessive earwax?
It’s best to seek professional advice and treatment as soon as you notice any changes to your ears, whether that’s excess earwax or any other hearing-related issues.
If you think you have excessive earwax, or if your earwax is causing you problems, you can come in-store and make use of our earwax removal service.
You can learn more about tinnitus here or find out more about earwax, including specialist advice on ear cleaning, on our earwax hub. You can also call your local store to chat about any concerns you have about your hearing or earwax.
1. Wu V, Cooke B, Eitutis S, Simpson MTW, Beyea JA. Approach to tinnitus management. Can Fam Physician. 2018;64(7):491-495.