How Does Earwax Effect Older Adults?

Posted by on

"The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in 70 or 80 years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all." ~ British novelist and poet, Doris Lessing

...And earwax is one of those things that changes in your body as you grow older.

According to, when you age, the outer part of your ear canal thins while the earwax gets drier and sticker. In addition, the eardrum may thicken, but the most significant change takes place in the cochlea. As you age, the cochlea experiences a loss of sensory cells and degenerative changes in the nerve fibers that carry information to the brain. In fact, this changing combination of aging ears and earwax buildup leads to most cases of conductive hearing loss in older adults. This makes sounds seem muffled. A hearing aid can also contribute to a wax blockage.

Keep reading to find out how, why, and steps you can take to prevent this...

Follow Us On Instagram!
Earwax In Older Adults

The amount of earwax produced varies from person to person and has nothing to do with your personal hygiene.

According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, some people – mostly men and older people– produce a lot of earwax. Too much earwax can cause problems in older people.

Less secretion is produced by the earwax glands (ceruminous glands) as they start to shrink, causing the earwax to dry out. Furthermore, dead skin particles build up continuously, and because the earwax dry, the ear’s ability to lubricate and clean itself is less effective.

When a lot of earwax is produced or if earwax builds up in the ear canal, it may form a plug that can affect your hearing. This is known as earwax impaction.

The National Library said researchers estimate that removing an earwax plug can improve hearing by 10 decibels. The difference between quiet whispering and normal conversation is about 20 decibels.

There are also other things that can make it difficult for the ear’sself-cleaning process to work correctly, besides getting older. Cleaning your ears with cotton swabs, hair pins, or any small utensils risk causing further complications.

The daily use or devices in the ears (in-ear headphones or hearing aids) or wearing ear plugs can also cause earwax to build up and harden if used too often.

Conductive Hearing Loss

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, conductive hearing loss is the main type of hearing loss associated with aging ears and earwax build-up.

With this type of hearing loss, your hearing is muffled. It is typically caused by a build-up of ear wax, which blocks the ear canal and prevents sound from entering.

Your primary healthcare provider can diagnose and remove the wax if there is an excessive build-up. It is normal for all ears to have some wax as this helps to protect the outer ear canal.

Other causes of conductive hearing loss include:

  • Infections in the skin lining the ear canal
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Arthritis that affects the bones of the ear
  • Hole in the eardrum

However, none of these causes are very common in older people.


Click here to learn about earwax in children! 

Eosera is happy to announce our ear care line, Everything Ear Care!
Our products are available online on Amazon, in CVS stores nation wide and Rite Aid stores.
  Subscribe to our mailing list for updates and follow us on Instagram, @EoseraInc for more features, photos, and fun facts!

← Older Post Newer Post →