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Do you clean your ears every day with cotton swabs or Q-tips? While you might think you’re doing the right thing for your ears, you are actually doing something the doctors recommend you never do! Cleaning your ears with cotton swabs can damage your ears, and stop earwax from doing its job of protecting and cleaning your ears, so next time you reach for the box of Q-tips, think again.
Nothing Smaller Than an Elbow
Put those Q-tips down! Doctors recommend that you don’t clean your ears, even with Q-tips or cotton swabs. Cleaning your ears with cotton swabs can be damaging your ears, either by scratching the ear canal, or even puncturing your ear drum! There have also been cases of infections caused by small particles of cotton from a Q-tip that can get lodged in the ear and cause major problems.
Cleaning your ears with cotton will actually be pushing earwax further into your ears rather than clearing it out. When ear wax is packed down against the eardrum, it’s called cerumen impaction, and it can lead to pain, discomfort, temporary hearing loss, or tinnitus.
What Does Earwax Do?
We often think of earwax as being a bit distasteful, and we wish our ears didn’t produce so much of it. However, earwax plays a crucial role in the health of our ear, trapping dirt and dust in the ear canal before it can reach the eardrum, or cause any damage to the ear. As the earwax collects dirt, it dries out, and through chewing and other jaw movements, this dried earwax slowly works its way to the front of the ear canal, and drops out or is washed away during your shower.
When you clean your ears with cotton or Q-tips, you are actually pushing this earwax further back into your ears and causing a lot of problems. “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 Your Ears Produce Too Much Earwax?
For 1 out of every 10 children, and 1 out of every 20 adults, the ears over produce earwax, leading to an unnatural build up of earwax in the ear canal. Seniors also experience earwax build up more often than younger adults. Do you feel like your ears are plugged? If you’ve noticed any sudden changes to your hearing, visit your doctor right away to check for signs of any injury, infection, or earwax buildup that could be causing you problems.
“Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning out their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles, or any number of unimaginable things that people put in their ears,” Schwartz explains. “The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal.”
Getting Your Ears Checked
You should get your ears checked at least once per year during your annual physical. Your doctor will look for signs of earwax build up, and can flush your ears with water to remove any impacted ear wax.
If you’re over the age of 60, you should also get your hearing tested once per year so that you can monitor your hearing health, and be informed the moment there are any changes to your hearing health. If you notice that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to, or your family is complaining that you’re not hearing clearly, it’s time to check your hearing.
Hearing Health Portland
Have you been struggling to hear? Do you suspect that your ears could have a build up of earwax? Call us today at Hearing Health Portland to schedule a hearing test, and find out your level of hearing loss. We’ll also do a visual exam to check for a buildup of earwax that could be affecting your ability to hear. Whatever your lifestyle and hearing needs, we’ll find the perfect hearing device that will help you hear in any listening environment.