Are Q-tips Bad? How To Safely Keep Your Ears Clean


For many people, their daily routine includes reaching for a few Q-Tips to clean out their ears. However, using cotton swabs to remove earwax is actually one of the riskiest – and least effective – things you could do for your hearing. While the small, narrow shape of a Q-Tip may seem perfectly suited for cleaning the inside of your ears, this well-known product is likely one of the most misunderstood items in your bathroom.

Here’s why using a Q-Tip to clean your ears isn’t just unproductive, but also downright dangerous for your hearing health.

Why You Should Never Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears

When you place a Q-Tip in your ear, you’ll actually be doing far more harm than good. The cotton swab typically pushes the wax further into the ear, towards the eardrum. There, it will harden and become stuck, eventually accumulating along the entire length of the ear canal. Serious obstructions also referred to as impactions, can cause discomfort and even impact your hearing. With about half of the population dealing with earwax impactions, it’s safe to say that the popular Q-Tip cleaning method isn’t doing anybody any favors.

Additionally, it’s easy to accidentally cause injury when using a Q-Tip. Because your ear canal and eardrum are highly delicate, even the seemingly soft end of a cotton swab can be risky. Common injuries caused by Q-Tips include punctured eardrums and bleeding ear canals, both of which can be very painful and may cause permanent hearing loss.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Ears?

Many people are surprised to learn that cleaning your ears isn’t actually necessary – in fact, the human body is very efficient at tackling the task on its own. Your ear canals are specifically designed to allow for the natural drainage of earwax, with the wax moving from the inside of the ear to the outside. Excess earwax will simply fall out, without requiring any removal.

Additionally, a certain amount of earwax is actually vital to your ear health. It provides a natural lubricant and antibiotic and helps guard against dirt and insects to keep the eardrum safe.

How to Clean Your Ears Without Q-Tips

Although at-home ear cleaning isn’t typically necessary on a regular basis, it’s not uncommon for many people to encounter issues as a result of earwax buildup. Officially referred to as cerumen impaction, this issue can cause minor hearing loss or discomfort for some patients. In these cases, you may be tempted to try to clean the ear using a Q-Tip. Some patients even attempt a popular but highly ineffective home remedy called ear candling, which claims to use a special candle to draw out the wax. At-home kits and vacuum tools are also commonly used, but equally pointless and potentially harmful. Ultimately, your best option is a professionally-administered ear cleaning service.

A doctor will gently inject a mixture of water and peroxide into the ear, safely and effectively removing any impacted wax. The procedure is quick and virtually painless, and your audiologist may be able to offer further suggestions if earwax is a frequent concern.

Contact Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center in Texas for Safe Earwax Removal

If you are dealing with frustrating wax buildup, Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center can help. We offer earwax removal and management services, performed by a licensed Doctor of Audiology (Au.D) to ensure patients’ health and safety. A simple and quick procedure can ease discomfort, remove the blockage, and even improve hearing for many patients, without the risk associated with at-home remedies and improper tools. If a referral to a medical physician is needed, our Audiologists will provide the patient with the necessary resources.

For more information about earwax removal or to schedule your consultation, contact Oliveira Audiology & Hearing Center today.


Image Credit: Getty, phasinphoto


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