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Q-tips – Can I put this in my ear?

Did your grandma ever mention to you to “never put anything bigger than your elbow in your ears”?  I, like so many of the patients we see every day, was surprised to learn that Q-tips are not meant to be used for ear cleaning. The box actually says “Warning: Do not insert swab into ear canal”, yet it is everyone’s favorite thing to put in their ears!

Did you know that your ears are designed to clean themselves?

Our bodies produce earwax as a cleaning agent. Wax is not dirty! We actually need earwax to catch dust, dirt, bacteria, and other debris before they get too deep in the ear canal. Earwax even helps to keep bugs out of our ears–it’s toxic! 
Earwax is produced by glands in the outer third of our ear canal that is made out of cartilage. When you chew and you talk, this portion of your ear canal moves and the earwax naturally works its way out of your ear. When you use Q-tips, you force the earwax into the bony portion of the ear canal. When you chew and you talk, this bony portion does not move and neither does your earwax. Qtipping can lead to excessive buildup of wax in this bony area of the ear canal which can lead to blockage, hearing loss, ear pain, abrasions, itchiness, and dizziness. Removal of excessive wax build up in this area is more difficult and uncomfortable to remove due to the bony portion of the ear canal being more sensitive than the cartilage portion of the ear canal.

“But my ears itch.”

We often hear this excuse from people who insist on continued Q-tip use. The truth is, Q-tips are the cause of the itchiness. Q-tips remove the natural oils that lubricate our ear canals. It becomes a vicious cycle–you use a Q-tip which makes your ears itch so you itch it with a Q-tip and the cycle continues.
Lastly, Q-tips can be downright dangerous. If inserted deep enough, Q-tips can puncture your eardrum. You may think you are being careful by not going in too deep but it only takes one slip or someone walking into the room and knocking your elbow to leave you with a hole in your eardrum. Is it really worth the risk?
Hopefully by now you agree, your ears are better off Q-tip free! Keeping a nice layer of wax in there ensures that our ears remain healthy, promotes better ear hygiene, lubricates the ear canals, and best of all keeps our ears bug free! 
If you are experiencing trouble with excessive wax build up because you are wearing hearing devices or just naturally build up more wax than your body can handle, schedule your professional wax removal appointment at The Hearing Institute of Ontario today.

At the Hearing Institute of Ontario, your hearing health is important to us.
Contact our Mississauga or Oakville office for a FREE consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced audiologists, to discuss the best hearing solution for your hearing loss type.