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Q-Tips & Ears: Good or Bad?

Keeping cotton swabs, such as Q-tips, in the bathroom to clean out your ears is very common, and many people think this is a necessary task, but it’s one that carries significant risks. 

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the use of cotton-tipped swabs or other home instruments pose a serious risk of damage to the eardrum and ear bones. When you use cotton swabs, you can accidentally damage your ears, and the most common cause of eardrum rupture is from trauma such as this. 

Instead, you should visit your doctor for an assessment if you experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as

  • Ear fullness
  • Hearing loss
  • Discomfort
  • Itching
  • The feeling of too much wax buildup

At ExcelENT, we will be able to help you with these issues in an appropriate manner. We can look inside your ear and safely remove wax, which is always the best course of action. Read on to learn more!

Q-Tips to Remove Earwax: FAQs & Dangers

We do know that earwax can be pesky. In some cases, too much earwax may cause hearing problems, itching, dizziness, and discomfort. However, you do not need to routinely clean out your ears. In most cases, earwax is actually healthy and protective for the ear. Earwax helps protect against infections, dry skin, and unwanted dirt and debris. 

What are the dangers of using a Q-tip to clean the ears?

Using cotton swabs or other instruments at home to clean your own ears can cause serious problems, such as:

  • Rupturing the eardrum – The most common cause of eardrum rupture is injury to the ear, typically occurring as a result of using cotton swabs or other instruments in the ear at home. This is painful and can lead to hearing loss and infections. 
  • Infection – Using a cotton swab in your ear can introduce bacteria, dust, and dirt into your ear and lead to ear infections. 
  • Pain – Even if you don’t fully rupture your eardrum, you can cause damage like scratches and inflammation. Cotton swabs also tend to push wax further into the ear canal, which will make the discomfort worse. 
  • Getting material stuck in the ear – Cotton material from swabs can get lodged and stuck in the ear. This can also cause hearing loss, infections, and discomfort. You will also likely need a doctor’s visit to remove it. 

How often should I clean earwax from my ears?

Most people do not need to routinely clean earwax from their ears. Our ears are normally “self-cleaning,” since earwax traps dirt and debris and slowly pushes it out. Here, it dries and falls out on its own. This helps prevent particles from getting in our ears and also prevents infection.

Why should I be so worried about my eardrum?

When using a cotton swab, you can easily reach your eardrum. But because the eardrum is so delicate, it can be easily ruptured with even gentle pressure from a swab. The pain is severe, and the ear may also leak a clear fluid. While a punctured eardrum will heal, it can take a while and can even lead to conductive hearing loss.

How should I clean my ears? 

As mentioned above, your ear typically does a great job of cleaning itself. In most cases, the ear canal does not need to be cleaned. During routine hair washing or showers, enough water enters the ear canal to loosen wax that has accumulated, and it typically loosens and falls out . on its own while you are asleep. If you’d like to clean your outer ear, also known as the pinna, occasionally you can use just a little soap, water, and a washcloth while you shower. Be very gentle. 

Let ExcelENT of Alabama Help With Issues Related to the Ears, Nose, and Throat

Whether you are dealing with earwax build-up, hearing troubles, or ear pain, our specialists at ExcelENT of Alabama can help. We have experts who can treat other issues related to the nose and throat as well. Schedule an appointment online, or call to discuss coming in at a time that’s best for you: 205-988-6858.

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