Can ear wax cause tinnitus?

Reviewed By:
May 24, 2023
8 min

Earwax, otherwise known as cerumen, is a natural secretion that develops in the ear canal. Earwax helps to keep our ears free from infection, and works to move debris, bacteria and dead skin from the ear canal slowly outwards, allowing it to fall out. However, sometimes earwax can become impacted. Children and older people are more at risk of earwax impaction.

Symptoms of earwax impaction include:

1) Itchiness
2) Pain or irritation
3) Blocked sensation
4) Hearing loss
5) Dizziness
6) Tinnitus

If you are unsure whether you are affected by earwax buildup, it’s a good idea to consult a hearing health professional. While you may be tempted to use a cotton bud or bobby pin to remove it yourself, it’s best to avoid this as you risk perforating your ear drum! Not only is this painful - it can take months to heal!

If you have a buildup or impaction of earwax, you can visit an audiology clinic for ear wax removal. Specially trained staff use microsuction to remove pieces of wax from your ears. Microsuctioning is a method used that is the most preferred as it is more effective, and safer compared to syringing because the risk of ear infection and damage to the ears is lower. It is pain free and quick. Before removal, you can try softening the earwax using olive oil or ear drops to encourage it to fall out the ear canal.

If your tinnitus is caused by earwax impaction, you should experience relief once your ears have been microsuctioned. However, if you find that your tinnitus remains present even after wax removal, there are multiple ways to manage it.

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