Here's Why Doctor's Don't Recommend Using Cotton Swabs To Clean Your Ears


Science | By Cole Damon | November 17, 2017

Doctors worldwide vehemently oppose the use of cotton swabs to clear out ear wax. But their advise falls on 'deaf ears' as many people continue to insert foreign objects in the cavities of their ears in hopes of 'cleaning' dirt and dust. Once a person pries something loose from their ear, it sends a cascade of satisfaction down their spines, but not without plenty of debilitating risks, some of which we'll describe here.

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Don't insert Q tips into your ears!

There is a warning on boxes which warn users not to insert them inside their ears. But Q-tips have increasingly become associated with cleaning out the wax in the ear. What people don't realize is that they achieve its exact opposite!

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They insert the wax further deep inside

Q-tips actually insert the wax further deep inside the ear canal which is barely an inch long. The ear then produces more ear wax and the normal flow of the wax - which is supposed to be from the inside out - is completely disrupted.

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The use of Q tips

The Q tips should only be used to clean the outer side of the ear. If you insert the cotton swab any deeper, it might actually get lodged inside the ear canal which could actually plug your ear!

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It becomes denser and denser

All that ear wax eventually becomes denser and denser and starts resembling tiny little rocks. These rocks can only be remove from trained professionals (such as your doctor) and can pose extreme danger such as tinnitus and even vertigo.

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Doctors warning

Doctors advice people not to insert anything inside their ears which is 'smaller than their elbow'. That actually means 'don't insert anything at all inside your ear!" Regardless, people would stick just about anything inside, from paper clips to hairpins and more!

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There's a lot of damage it can do

Cotton swabs, hair pins, toothpicks and even house keys (people do stick house keys inside their ears as well!) can cause small cuts inside the ear canals, perforate the drums and can even dislocate our hearing bones.

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The damage can be irreversible

This can lead to loss of hearing, dizziness, ringing (tinnitus) most of which might be irreversible. Some of the cuts can also lead to infections which could travel all the way up to the brain and trigger brain damage.

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Misunderstanding what ear wax means

Most people are of the opinion that ear wax is an indication of uncleanliness, but what they fail to realize is that ear wax (a self cleaning agent) actually plays a central role in naturally cleaning the ear canal.

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Wax traps dirt

Dirt, dust or any other foreign object which manages to enter inside our ears get stuck to the wax, which prevents particles from going further up into the ear canal. Additionally, ear wax also helps keep the ear lubricated.

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The body's natural means of coping with old earwax

The movement and action of our jaws also plays an integral role in cleaning out the old earwax from the ear. This movement gradually pushes the dirt out of the ear canal from inside to the outside.

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What should one do in case of excess buildup?

Visit your general practitioner in case you feel that there is excess ear wax (or harmful foreign object) inside your ear canals. Never operate on the ear canal yourself or you could make the situation worse than it already is.

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Some home remedies can also work

This is not to say that that aren't any home remedies available to use, doctors still recommend that you should ask your general practitioner about the best ways of treating your ear wax. You might have certain ear conditions which could make these options unsafe.

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A popular home remedy

Mix one part of rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and tap water and add tiny droplets inside your ear. This will easily soften up the ear wax and actually help with the cleanup process in a natural way.

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Inserting water inside the ear canal

Something as simple as inserting a few drops (emphasis on few!) of water can be fairly effective to soften up the ear wax. You can also use over the counter wax softening drops and irrigators to get the job done!

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Go to the doctor if you have the following

Some people attribute their conditions to wax buildup but that is not always the case. If your ear shows the following symptoms such as pain, drainage, bleeding, ringing sound and hearing loss then make an appointment with a doctor immediately before the symptoms further aggravate and spiral out of control!

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