When It's Time To Clean Your Ears, Avoid Q-Tips At All Costs

"Don't put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow." That might not be a phrase that most people are familiar with, but you better believe it's true. So what about Q-tips? They're the go-to for most when it comes time to get squeaky clean ears, but they're certainly smaller than the elbow of even a newborn. Well, hate to break it to you, but, according to audiologist and professor William H. Shapiro, those cotton buds have simply got to go.

As Shapiro explains, earwax is actually a good thing! Without it, your ear is left open to all kinds of foreign objects, even minuscule ones like dust, which can impact the way you hear. And, he's right, where most people are concerned, when he says you shouldn't remove wax from your ear. However, for many, earwax, clinically known as cerumen, can cause some problems. In fact, according to the chairman of the Guideline Development Task Force for the American Academy of Otolaryngology (the study of the ears, nose, and throat) Richard Rosenfeld, about 12 million people each year "in the U.S. seek medical care for impacted or excessive cerumen," ending in about 8 million cerumen removals, undertaken by health care professionals. Excessive or impacted earwax can result in pain, itching of the ear, tinnitus, or even hearing loss, so if you suspect you've got a problem, it's important to get checked out by a professional.

So, what if you feel you have a blockage, but you want to avoid Q-tips? Many doctors recommend over-the-counter treatment first such as Debrox or Murine, liquid drops that soften the wax and allow it to drain out of the ear. You can also grab one of those bulb syringes that are so popular with parents of congested infants.

Use it to gently flush the ear with sterile, warm (approximately body temperature) water to attempt to irrigate the ear canal safely.

H/T: Tech Insider

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