Is It Hearing Loss or Wax Build-up?
Do you have gaps in hearing certain sounds or difficulty hearing certain words?
Could your middle ear be the problem?
- An inner ear infection often is inflammation or irritation of the parts of the ear responsible for balance and hearing called labyrinthitis. Less commonly, an inner ear infection is a true infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
- Symptoms of inner ear infections include:
- Spinning sensation
- Problems with balance or walking
- Hearing loss
- Earache or ear pain
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
Is earwax the culprit?
Your ear canal produces a waxy oil called cerumen, which is more commonly known as earwax. This wax protects the ear from dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. It also protects ear canal skin from irritation due to water. In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally, and then is washed away.
When your glands make more earwax than necessary, it may get hard and block the ear. When you clean your ears, you can accidentally push the wax deeper, causing a blockage. Wax buildup is a common reason for temporary hearing loss.
You should take great caution when trying to treat earwax buildup at home. If the problem persists, visit your doctor. Treatment is generally quick and painless, and hearing can be fully restored.
Trouble hearing soft sounds?
Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common. About one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 75, that number is approximately 1 in 2.
Hearing loss is defined as one of three types:
- Conductive (involves outer or middle ear)
- Sensorineural (involves inner ear)
- Mixed (combination of the two)
Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises both contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily reduce how well your ears conduct sounds.
You can’t reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you and your doctor or a hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.