If your ear wax has become especially stinky, it may indicate an excess of cerumen has accumulated in your ear, explains the Cleveland Clinic. This can create a blockage, which may be accompanied by earache, hearing loss, tinnitus, and yes, a bad smell. Ear wax buildup isn’t always within our control. Rather, it can occur as a result of injury, the development of scar tissue, or if a person’s ears are particularly hairy. If you notice potential signs of ear wax impaction, reach out to your doctor, as they can help dislodge the buildup safely.
Another kind of blockage that may produce foul-smelling ear wax is a physical obstruction, reports Healthline. Young kids are more prone to these types of blockages as they may insert rocks, toy pieces, or food items into their ears. One 2018 study published in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England found that from 2010 to 2016, nearly 86% of hospital cases of foreign object removal from the ears were in children. Alternatively, funky-scented ear wax can also occur if a bug makes its way into our ears and becomes trapped in our ear wax. Those with a physical object lodged in their ear may also experience hearing loss, discomfort, or an infection.