Can Earwax Cause Hearing Loss?

Can Earwax Cause Hearing Loss?

CVH Audiology Cleaning Ears

In short, yes, earwax can cause hearing loss. But it doesn’t occur as commonly as one might think. In fact, very few patients who are seen by hearing healthcare professionals have hearing loss that is literally due to excessive earwax (cerumen impaction).

More likely, the patient has experienced a gradual decline in their hearing over time and the hearing loss has become enough that the patient is starting to have difficulty communicating with others. It is when communication starts to become affected that people seek help.

What, you might ask, causes cerumen impaction? Anything that affects the normal outward flow of ear wax may cause impaction, such as advanced age, narrow or abnormally shaped ear canals, use of a hearing aid, incorrect use of cotton swabs, or using needles, hair pins, or other objects to clean the ears. (Do not stick anything in your ear to clean it!)

If I shouldn’t put anything in my ears to clean them, how will my ears get clean?

Did you know that our ears are actually able to clean themselves? There’s absolutely no need to use ear buds to clean your ears (and we do not recommend using ear buds).

The outer portion of our ear canal is made of soft tissue and this tissue moves the wax towards to entrance of the ear. Once the wax is at the entrance of the ear it will either fall out on its own, or you will feel an itch in their ear and use your fingernail to pull the ball of wax out. The deeper portion of our ear canal is made of cartilage and doesn’t move. That means once wax enters this deeper portion of the ear canal, it gets stuck and requires removal from a doctor or audiologist. Using ear buds pushes wax into this deeper portion, preventing the ears natural cleaning mechanism from working.

We also do not recommend ear candles for wax removal. There is no proof that they work and furthermore, can cause damage to our ears and hearing.

Total earwax blockage is rare

What is important to know here is that soundwaves only need a tiny opening in the ear canal to reach the eardrum. So, unless the ear canal is plugged tightly with earwax, there shouldn’t be noticeable hearing loss. When cerumen impaction is severe enough to cause hearing loss, there will likely be other signs and symptoms noticed, such as dizziness, ear fullness (a feeling that something is plugging up your ear), itchiness or pain in the ears and/or ringing in the ears. Rarely does cerumen impaction occur without additional signs that “something is wrong.”

Hearing professionals can help remove excessive earwax

The good news is that hearing loss caused by cerumen impaction is easily treated. At CVH Audiology, the audiologist can assist you with removing excessive earwax.

To book an appointment at either the Bedfordview or Benoni practice, please call us on 011 615 3047 or email

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