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Ringing In The Ears And Ear Wax

A common cause of ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is ear wax. And not just plain old ear wax but excessive or impacted ear wax. This means ear wax that has been pushed towards the inner ear.

You may be wondering how this happens. Sometimes, your ears just naturally produce excessive wax and as it tries to clear itself, some pieces end up blocking the inner ear canal. Other times, incorrectly or excessively using q-tips to clean your ears of wax can end up pushing wax towards the inner ear.

Either way, abnormalities with ear wax are strongly correlated to ringing in the ear symptoms.

First, let’s review what ear wax is and why we have it. Ear wax, otherwise known as cerumen, is a substance naturally produced by the body.

  • This substance can vary in appearance – it can be dry, wet, flaky, chunky, sticky, or crumbly. It can also vary in color – from a bright yellow all the way to red or even brown. Age, diet, general health, and ethnicity cause variances in ear wax.
  • It is basically made of fats and alcohols.
  • Ear wax is normally found in the outer ear canal.

The ear produces wax in order to keep dead skin cells, debris, dust, and other unwanted substances out of the inner ear. So basically, our body naturally makes ear wax and we need it to keep our ears clean and safe.

So what causes the ear ringing symptoms?

Ringing in the ears is caused by excessive or impacted ear wax. Excessive ear wax occurs when…

  • You try to clean your ears using q-tips and push wax into the inner ear canal. Your ears will then produce more ear wax and an abundance of ear wax can occur.
  • You swim often. Water can contain debris or other contaminants which cause the ear to produce more wax to compensate.
  • You have other objects in your ears frequently. This include ear plugs, ear bud headphones, and in-ear hearing aids. When objects are in your ears, the ear wax has less opportunities to naturally fall out and clear itself.
  • Individual variables including those with regular ear infections, elderly people, those with variances in the structures of their ear canals, and sometimes even individuals with skin disorders.

Not only can excessive ear wax lead to ringing in the ears, but also impacted ear wax can cause tinnitus. Impacted ear wax occurs when naturally occurring ear wax in the ear canal makes its way to the inner ear and blocks the inner ear structures.

How do you know if you have excessive or impacted ear wax?

You may have excessive or impacted ear wax if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritation, itchiness, and pain in the ear
  • A sensation of fullness
  • Dizziness or vertigo

If you have any of the above symptoms as well as a ringing sound in one or both ears, then you may have ear wax related ear ringing.

Here’s what you can do about it.

  1. Most importantly, stop cleaning your ears using q-tips, cotton balls, or napkins. Also, don’t use ear candles. Basically, do not stick anything into your ear canal. More than likely, you are doing more harm than good. The ear naturally cleans itself and ear wax is a necessary human substance that your body needs.
  2. Moisturize and soften the outer ear and ear canal by dropping 1-3 drops of olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil into the ear. Massage on the outer ear by putting a drop of oil on a cotton ball and gently rubbing all around the ear.
  3. Try 1-3 drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear. This substance works by softening the ear wax which can then fall out on its own. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial properties.
  4. Use 1-3 drops of apple cider vinegar. Apply by using a dropper into the ear as you would if using the oil or hydrogen peroxide methods. Apple cider vinegar is a natural way to flush out the ears and allow the wax to be broken up so it can clear itself.
  5. Over the counter ear drops. If using oils does not help with your excessive ear wax, try a more potent over the counter drop. Find one at your local pharmacy. Some examples include Similasan, Hyland’s, Murine, or Debrox.
  6. If none of the above methods are effective for you, pay a visit to your audiologist or otolaryngologist. They will use more advanced methods of removing the wax. These professional methods of ear wax removal can involve rinsing with warm water or suction using a special device. Both are considered generally painless and rather quick procedures.

Of course, there are many other causes of ringing in the ears including ear infections, hearing loss, a traumatic event, or disorders of the ear. But if you think your ear ringing is caused by excessive or impacted ear wax, it is important to be up to date on the possible ways to get rid of the ringing in your ears by solving the problem of ear wax. It is a pretty easy solution compared to the more rigorous or involved treatments for ear ringing so certainly worth considering.

Now some people have also asked this question related to ear wax and ringing in the ears.

What if my professional ear wax removal caused my tinnitus?

Some of those suffering with ear ringing have reported that after getting their ears cleaned by a healthcare professional, they developed that awful ringing or buzzing symptoms in their ears. Others have reported that their ringing increased in volume or frequency after getting professional ear cleaning.

Now that’s scary! Ultimately, complications are considered very rare as this is a common procedure. However, it is possible. But how?

  • Sometimes, if you have had a significant amount of ear wax blocking the inner ear and reducing sounds getting into the ear, then you may hear increased overall loudness which leads to the perception of louder ringing sounds.
  • It is also possible that the procedure has broken up the build-up of ear wax but not all of the pieces have fallen out yet meaning you may still hear ringing in your ears.
  • Another possibility is that a poor job has been done by the doctor. It is unlikely but minor damage may have been done to the ear or ear canal which can then lead to ringing in the ears. Additionally, the sudden force entering the ears in order to clean the wax can have a damaging effect on the middle and inner ear causing tinnitus symptoms.

If you’ve determined that you have ringing in the ears and you need a cure, check out some of these popular options. Some people have had success with these unconventional remedies, as well as medications, a commonly used natural substance, and some relaxation exercises that have brought relief to many of my patients.

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