Cotton swabs are meant to remove wax from the ear canal run the risk of doing more harm than good. Research...
Cotton swabs are meant to remove wax from the ear canal run the risk of doing more harm than good. Research from otolaryngologists reveals that cotton swab calamities are a major cause of ear-related ER visits among U.S. adults.
Because of the cotton swab design, you tend to push in more earwax in than you pull out. Since some individuals produce more earwax than others, it can be tempting to want to remove it yourself. But here are reasons why you shouldn’t:
1. Earwax is composed of dead tissue which is effective at trapping and killing microorganisms.
2. Your body already has a system for removing ear wax naturally.
3. You risk pushing ear wax and dead skin cells even further into your ear canal.
Wonder how the ear canals self-cleanse? Well, your ears are built to move out ear wax, or cerumen, naturally out of the ear canal - like a conveyor belt. A natural process removes extra earwax out of the tunnel. At that point, once on the outside ear, it gets dry, and flakes off. When you swallow or chew; the moving motion caused by your jaw and moving head actually self-cleanse the ear canal. How cool is that?!
“Hi, I’m Doctor Parrish, and this is Fact or Fiction with SayWhat! Today’s topic is: “Your ears naturally clean themselves. Fact or Fiction? This is a Fact.” Your ears are designed to naturally expel any foreign substance including your own earwax. This is why I recommend washing only the outside of the ear with a wash cloth. We never recommend using a cotton swab, because that only serves to push the wax further in and can cause your ear to become impacted, which can result in hearing loss.”
In this series, SayWhatHearing interviewed an audiologist to get her take on popular topics related to hearing loss. Dr. Heather Parrish has been practicing audiology since 2006. She enjoys educating new hearing aid users, or family and friends who have a loved one with hearing loss.
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