Despite it directly stating on the package “do not insert into ear canal,” most Americans are still using Q-tips to clean the inside of their ears. If you’re one of these people, you could eventually end up with some bothersome symptoms. ENT specialists in Alabama see this problem all the time, but many individuals are still unaware that they could be damaging their ears by cleaning them with Q-tips.
Should You Remove Earwax?
The most common use of cotton swabs is to clean the inner ear to remove earwax, although this has never been medically recommended. But do we actually need to remove earwax? Earwax is a natural substance with antibacterial properties that can trap and kill illnesses before they enter your body. Many people also think that earwax is the cause of itchy ears, prompting them to find a Q-tip. However, over-cleaning is usually the cause of the itching! So where does your earwax go if you don’t remove it?
It turns out, your body was designed to get rid of earwax on its own, without any help from cotton swabs. Motions like talking and chewing naturally work the earwax out of the ear and is washed away during your next shower. Wax-softening ear drops or just warm water is usually enough assistance needed for cleaning the inner ear.
The Consequences of Q-Tips
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably been using Q-tips to clean your inner ears unknowing of the consequences. When you insert something small like a cotton swab into your ear, you could actually be pushing the earwax deeper into the ear, instead of taking it out. This can lead to a buildup of wax that can cause symptoms like ringing in the ears, muffled hearing, and earaches. If pushed too far, an earwax buildup can permanently damage the eardrum.
If you suspect you have an earwax buildup, put the Q-tips away and come to Alabama Ear, Nose & Throat to have your earwax buildup properly addressed.