Do Headphones Cause Earwax?

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Either habits or work relations have been making us use headphones or earbuds every single day. Now, these technology pieces became indispensable and something we cannot live with.  

A famous Otolaryngologist in New York City Sujana S. Chandrasekhar says that the human ear canals are open to the air for a justified reason. Headphones or earbuds block all the air inside and don’t let it pass through the ear,s and over time the human body as a protective shield builds ear wax. 

A contact stimulus, as defined by Otolaryngologist (medical doctors mainly focused on the ear, nose, and throat), is a motivating factor that causes ear wax formation. The most common offenders are devices that touch and rub the ears, such as headphones, earphones, and even hearing aids. Your ears are trying to defend themselves from discomfort or illness by creating extra ear wax.

Ear wax is something uncontrollable, but of course, there are hacks you can apply in order to prevent it from happening. To learn about it keep reading.

What is Ear wax?

Ear wax also can be called cerumen in medical terms. It can come in brown, orange, red, yellow, and sometimes even gray. It is quite a normal thing for the human ear to reproduce because ear wax as a substance, targets towards the protection of the ear from bacteria, fun, or water. 

Ear wax and that tiny little hair in the ear traps the dirt and dust inside not to cause your ear any hearing damage over time. Our ear drum which is a thin skin deeper in the ear is stretched and doesn’t allow the unknown particles to go deep down. Everything is about protection. 

How to Prevent Earwax from Headphones?

Choosing headphones over earbuds would be the first step of prevention. Yes in ear headphones can be harmful.

1. Clean your Headphones as often as you could  

  • Start by cleaning the ear cushions by dabbing an alcohol or hand sanitizer on the surface and gently start the rubbing process.
  • Let the headphones dry for a while and get a paper towel or cloth and rub again. 
  • As an advanced form of cleaning, you can use the Hearing Aid Vacuum. it can effectivity clean the dirt, debris, and ear wax.

2. Don’t Keep the Headphones on when it’s not needed

Another fact is that even though we aren’t working or not listening to music, we prefer to keep the headphones on for hours. Try to break this habit and take them off, so your ear can feel free to breathe.

However, some brands claim that they create breathable materials, but due to the headphone structure and aim, this is not real. Avoid using headphones when you’re not doing anything with them.

3. How to Notice You Have an Ear wax? 

The earliest stage of the ear wax is the feeling of being filled and not hearing properly the conversations that you normally do. Another visible sign is feeling dizzy or lightheaded too often, and starting to hear ringing noises after you take your headphones out if you used the headphones for a very long time. Or additionally, if the noises come out of the blue.  

If you have all these signs or at least one of them, the time to pay a visit to your doctor has come.

4. At-Home Remedies for Ear wax Removal

  • Get an eyedropper and fill it with baby oil, mineral, and glycerin or hydrogen peroxide in your ear canal.
  • Using warm water is ideal and then you will notice how the wax softens after a couple of days. Get a rubber bulb syringe and make the liquid eject inside.
  • Tilt your head straight and plug the outer ear with a finger for no more than 6 seconds and let the water come out.

Do Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

Back on August 18, 2010, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that audio devices like headphones, earbuds, and speakers increase the hearing loss in adolescents and adults.

The professionals highly suggest that keeping the noise down at 70dB, and 85dB is considered a damaging level after you are exposed too much to your ears with music. 

Check out this table from CDC (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) in the article written about Occupational Noise Exposure.

Noise Level Time Before Damage Equivalent To:
80 dB 25 hours Telephone Dial Tone
83 dB 12 hours
86 dB 6.5 hours City Traffic
89 dB 3 hours
92 dB 1.5 hours Highway Traffic
95 dB 45 minutes Jackhammer 50’ away
98 dB 23 minutes
101 dB 12 minutes Hand Drill at 3’
104 dB 6 minutes
107 dB 3 minutes Lawnmower at 3’
110 dB 1.5 minutes
113 dB >1 minute Power Saw, Rock Concert


Some Fun Facts About Ear wax buildup?

According to ENT & Allergy Associates stated 10 facts about ear waxing. Let’s see what they say about this topic.

  1. It’s perfectly fine for the ear wax to come in multiple colors like brown, orange, red, gray, and yellow.
  2. Ear waxing can come in different proportions, wet and dry. This mostly has to do with genetics.
  3. For hygiene, the gathered ear wax is naturally taken out when you move your jaw and mouth.
  4. The substances inside the ear wax consist of acids, squalene, alcohols, and cholesterol combined with dead skin cells.
  5. Ear wax is not literally a wax. They are dead skin cells and ceruminous together with sebaceous glands that are placed in the ear canal.
  6. If the ear wax is not created, the gathered bacteria and ear infection would have caused severe damage.
  7. Ear wax doesn’t allow the dirt, dust, and bacteria to penetrate inside your ear canal and keeps them clean. while moisturizing the skin of the external ear canal to avoid infection.
  8. The smooth and soft texture of the ear wax prevents the itching and dry feeling.
  9. Ear wax doesn’t allow any bug to get in and go deeper over time.
  10. Over time ear wax causes hearing damage if it’s not cleaned properly. If any symptoms like dizziness, constant itching, or earache, visit the otolaryngologist as soon as possible.

So yeah, ear wax production has its benefits but avoid things that increase ear wax build since that can be harmful to your ears.

A Brief Sum Up

Ear wax is a natural component that protects our ears from bacteria and dirt penetrating inside. Headphones don’t let the air pass through the canal, and over time you can end up with a permanent hearing loss.

To prevent ear wax from happening, clean your headphones as often as you can, don’t keep them on when it’s not needed so the ears can breathe, and most important if you notice any dizziness, earache, or constant ringing, please visit an Otolaryngologist. 

So as my last words, I just want to say that please always take care of your ears and check if you are having ear health problems such as ear pain ear wax problems, and so on. Ears are something we should not neglect since they can lead to hearing loss and such problems. 

Further Reading

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