Have Ear Wax? Don't Clean It With a Q-Tip
By Lafayette Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists
August 11, 2016
Category: ENT
Tags: ears   ear pain   ear wax   ear cleaning  

If you're like many people, cleaning your ears with Q-tips is part of your usual daily routine. Unfortunately, using cotton swabs to remove earsearwax can harm your ears. Dr. John Alldredge, Dr. C. Barrett Aldredge and Dr. Denbo Montgomery, your Lafayette, LA ENTs, explain why using Q-tips to clean your ears isn't a good idea.

Your ears are self cleaning

Earwax lubricates your ears and removes debris and skin cells. Every time you chew or move your jaw, earwax is gradually moved along your ear canal. Eventually, it reaches the outer part of your ear, where it can be washed away. Contrary to what our grandparents believed, there is no need to clean the ears with Q-tips.

Using cotton swabs impedes wax removal

Using cotton swabs actually pushes wax farther into your ear canal. Eventually, you can develop a blockage. If you have an earwax blockage, you may notice these symptoms:

  • Partial hearing loss
  • Earache
  • Itching
  • Discharge or odor
  • Plugged up ears
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Coughing

How should I clean my ears?

Wax can easily be removed from the exterior surfaces of your ears with a damp washcloth. Be sure to avoid placing the washcloth in your ear canals. If you have an earwax blockage, you can often treat the problem at home by placing mineral oil or baby oil in your ear, or using earwax removal drops available from drugstores. Once the earwax is softened, it will eventually make its way out of your ears.

If home treatment doesn't ease your symptoms, your ear, nose and throat doctor in Lafayette can clean your ears using irrigation or can manually remove the wax using special instruments. Manual removal should not be attempted at home, as it can be easy to damage your ear canal or ear drum if you try to remove the wax without the appropriate instruments.

Are you concerned that a wax blockage could be the cause of your hearing loss or earache? Call Dr. Alldredge, Dr. Aldredge and Dr. Montgomery, your Lafayette, LA ENTs, at (337) 232-2330 to schedule an appointment. Throw away the Q-tips and protect your ears!