Why You Should Avoid Cleaning Your Ears with Cotton Swabs

Why You Should Avoid Cleaning Your Ears with Cotton Swabs

Ron Middleton Ear Health, Ear Wax, Research, Tips and Tricks

Ron Middleton

Ron has been a part of the Lifestyle team helping people hear better since 2005. Before joining our team, Ron served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years. As a Master Sergeant, he was Superintendent of Wing Aircrew Life Support and oversaw a staff of nearly 100. For the past decade, Ron has contributed to the community through leadership roles in the Tucson Downtown Lions Club.
Ron Middleton

If you’ve been cleaning your ears every day, stop! Doctors recommend that you stop cleaning your ears immediately, and never put anything smaller than your elbow inside your ear canal. You should avoid cleaning your ears with Q-tips or cotton swabs, or any other objects, as this could actually be damaging your ears, and preventing ear wax from doing its job of protecting your ears.

Stop Cleaning Your Ears

While it seems like everyone you know is cleaning their ears when they step out of the shower, doctors say you should never use cotton swabs or Q-tips in your ears for any reason. You could be damaging your ears, scratching the ear canal, or even puncture the ear drum, leading to discomfort, pain, and permanent hearing loss. You could also cause an infection, since small bits of cotton could become lodged in your ear and create health issues.

What Does Ear Wax Do?

Ear wax might seem sticky and gross, but it actually performs a very important job. Ear wax keeps your ear from drying out, helps them sweat naturally, and also keeps your ears clean. Ear wax traps any dirt, dust, debris, or moisture, that enters your ear, and stops these particles from reaching your ear drum or causing damage to the middle ear.

Ear wax is self-regulating, and you only produce as much as you need. When ear wax has trapped a lot of dust, it starts to dry out, and with jaw movements like chewing and talking, it slowly gets worked out of the ear canal until it falls out of the ear or gets washed away.

When you clean your ears, you’re upsetting this natural balance, and rather than letting your ears purge the old ear wax, the Q-tip, cotton swab, pencil, paper clip, finger, or whatever you stick into your ears, will actually push this old ear wax back into your ear, and create a blockage against your ear drum. This is called cerumen impaction, and can cause discomfort, tinnitus, or hearing loss, making sounds around you seem muffled and quiet. “It is a strong reminder to patients that ear health starts with them,” says Seth Schwartz of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, “and there are many things they should do as well as many things that they should stop doing immediately to prevent damage to their ears.”

Do You Have Too Much Ear wax?

1 in every 20 adults have too much ear wax in their ears. They over produce ear wax, and it starts to build up in their ears. This issue is even more common among children and seniors. If you feel like your ears are plugged, or that you’re having trouble hearing, visit your doctor to have your ears checked. Your health care professional will look in your ears to determine if you have a build up of wax. If you do, they’ll flush out your ear with water, avoiding putting anything in the ear or driving the ear wax further down the ear canal.

You should have your ears checked during your annual physical, so you’ll be sure you don’t have too much ear wax in your ears. If you’ve noticed any sudden changes in your hearing, be sure to visit the doctor right away, as this is an indication that something isn’t right.

Lifestyle Hearing Solutions

Are you over the age of 60? You should be checking your hearing every year, looking for signs of ear wax buildup, and making sure there are no changes to your hearing health. At Lifestyle Hearing Solutions, we’re dedicated to giving you the best in hearing health care, whatever your level of hearing loss and hearing needs. Monitoring your hearing through yearly tests will allow you to quickly notice any changes to your hearing health, look for signs of ear wax build up, and be confident knowing your hearing health is in good hands.

At Lifestyle Hearing Solutions, our team of hearing health professionals will be with you at every step of the way, examining your ears for any sign of ear wax buildup, testing your hearing loss, and recommending the perfect device that will allow you to hear clearly no matter where you find yourself.