Earwax buildup

Experiencing sudden or partial hearing loss, and feel like there’s some fullness in your ear? Relax — it could be just earwax buildup. 

It is normal for your ear to produce wax or a waxy oil called cerumen. This wax protects the ear from bacteria, foreign particles, irritation due to water and dust. Your body is capable of removing excessive wax naturally from the ear opening. Sometimes, your glands may make more earwax than necessary, causing the wax to harden and block the ears. You may be tempted to clean your ears with a cotton bud or your fingers, but doing so can push the earwax deeper, causing impacted earwax or earwax buildup. You are also likely to have earwax buildup if you frequently use earphones, as the earphones can prevent earwax from coming out of the ear canal. 

Most cases of conductive hearing loss in adults are caused by earwax buildup. 

  • Sudden or partial hearing loss
  • Ringing sound or buzzing in the ear 
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear 
  • Earache 

Earwax is usually nothing to worry about and can be removed easily by an ENT Specialist, but in some cases earwax can also lead to infection. Please see a doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms: 

  • Severe pain in your ear that doesn’t subside 
  • Drainage from your ear
  • Fever, coughing 
  • Persistent hearing loss 
  • Dizziness 

Sometimes, hearing loss can also be a sign of Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that results in dizzy spells (vertigo), fluctuating hearing loss and ringing sound in the ear. Occasionally, you may also get a feeling of fullness in the ear. 

Meniere’s disease is associated with an abnormal amount of fluid in the inner ear. This could be due to allergies, viral infection, improper fluid drainage from the ear and head trauma. 

If you think you may have Meniere’s disease or experience its associated symptoms like vertigo regularly, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Vertigo episodes are usually very unpredictable and can affect your quality of life. 

Lady with her hand beside ear

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