3 Lifestyle Factors That Can Cause Excess Ear Wax

Excess ear wax build-up is a common problem that can cause pain and discomfort in the ear. Too much wax in your ears may be associated with conditions like chronic ear canal irritation, eczema, and recurrent infections. These issues are also often associated with other symptoms such as itchy ears, pain, sensation of blockage, discharge from the ear and even odours from the ear canal.

But did you know that lifestyle factors can also be behind what causes ear wax? From the way that you clean your ears to loud noise exposure, excess ear wax can be the result of lifestyle habits that you can easily change to prevent recurring build-ups. Read on to discover the lifestyle factors that can be behind excess ear wax, so you know how to reduce your risk of this discomfort in future.

What Causes Ear Wax?

So, what causes excessive ear wax in the first place? Generally, the amount of ear wax you produce is genetic, which means that you have no direct control over it. However, using incorrect ear cleaning methods, using earbuds and in-ear earphones (especially the rubber sealing ‘noise-cancelling’ types) excessively, and regular exposure to environmental irritants may also be excessive ear wax causes.

Some ear wax is necessary to help your ears to stay clean and healthy, but a build-up of excess ear wax can lead to other problems, such as:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ear infections – in some circumstances, such as when swimming, water can get trapped behind significant wax build ups causing bacteria or fungi to multiply
  • Tinnitus
  • Physical discomfort

Read more about what causes ear wax to build-up.

Excessive Ear Wax Causes: Lifestyle Factors

From the way that you clean your ears to the type of headphones you use to environmental irritants, there are multiple factors that can cause excess ear wax. Keep reading to discover the lifestyle factors that may be behind your excess ear wax build-up and understand the changes you can make.

1. Cleaning Your Ears Incorrectly

If you clean your ears at home, it’s vital to do this correctly to prevent any injuries, and to prevent excess ear wax. Cotton buds should be avoided – they actually push the wax deeper into your ear, irritating it further, and there’s a risk of it snapping and becoming lodged in your ear. Cotton buds can also scratch and irritate the sensitive parts of your inner ear skin, which can lead to excess ear wax production.

If you do manage to remove ear wax yourself (which we don’t recommend), whether through ear candles, cotton swabs, or another method, it’s important not to remove too much. If you take away all of your ear wax, your body will end up creating even more to try to protect and moisturise your ear canal. Learn about how to remove ear wax safely.

2. Regular Use Of Earphones

Many of us use headphones and earbuds routinely to listen to music, podcasts, and take phone calls, wherever we are. But did you know that your reliance on these gadgets could be leading to excess ear wax build-up and over-production? This is because the ears produce wax as a result of contact stimulation – any touch from a foreign object leads to the secretion of wax to protect the lining of the ear. Noise-cancelling earphones in particular often push wax into the external ear canal, as they need to be firmly pressed against the ear to form the noise-cancelling seal.

Wearing hearing aids can have a similar effect, which is why frequent ear wax removal is recommended for many people who wear them, while they must always be kept clean and free from bacteria. Earphones can also pick up tiny pieces of debris, which can then get stuck inside your ear, leading to a build-up of excess ear wax.

If you use earbuds or headphones regularly, tinnitus can also be a risk. This is due to a lack of air circulation around them, so if they’re regularly worn without proper care, the risk of tinnitus, ear ache, and even vertigo increases. You can reduce this risk by limiting the amount of time that you use earbuds, and by ensuring they’re free of dirt and debris before use.

3. Excess Noise & Other Types Of Pollution

Did you know that spending time in especially loud or dirty environments can lead to a build-up of excess ear wax? This is because these environments can irritate your ears, which in turn encourages excess ear wax production. Loud music venues, nightclubs, dusty workplaces, and even pollen in the air may all stimulate excess ear wax. If you work in a loud place, whether it’s around music or machinery, or spend a lot of time outdoors when the pollen count is high, you may be at greater risk of a build-up of excess ear wax.

When the ears become irritated by environmental factors of any kind, your body’s natural response is to protect them from infection and injury, which it does by producing more ear wax via the glands in the outer ear canal. This wax slowly moves upwards, drying out along the way. Often, this excess ear wax falls out of the ear on its own, taking dry skin cells with it, but it may cause you discomfort.

If excess ear wax is blocking your ears, causing pain or discomfort and over-the-counter solutions aren’t working, professional ear wax removal may be the best option for you.

Excess Ear Wax: Removal Options

If you’re struggling with excess ear wax and blocked ears, whether it’s due to lifestyle factors or another reason, ear wax removal can potentially help to clean your ears and leave you feeling more comfortable, and potentially able to hear better again.

You can prevent a build-up of excess ear wax by always cleaning your ears in the recommended way, avoiding exposure to loud noise and other types of pollution, and using headphones and earphones only occasionally.

If you do require excess ear wax removal, microsuction is the best and most effective method – it’s both more efficient and more comfortable than ear syringing. At Ear Care Lab, our team of microsuction ear wax removal specialists are trained in removing ear wax in a way that won’t trigger excessive ear wax production further down the line.

Ear microsuction involves using a small suction device to remove excess ear wax – it’s a little like vacuuming wax from the ears. Thanks to the use of a binocular operating microscope or specialised magnification loupe, the clinicians performing the procedure are able to see inside the ear clearly, allowing them to accurately target excess ear wax.

Contact us today if you have any questions about the procedure, or book your ear microsuction appointment online now.

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