Why you should never clean your ears with cotton swabs

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Many of us were raised with the idea that our ears should regularly be cleaned with cotton swabs – and old habits die hard.

While the medical community now strongly advises against it (and cotton swabs will even come with warning labels forbidding it), countless Australians still clean their ears this way. After all, if you’ve done it all your life, is it really so harmful?

Not only are cotton swabs surprisingly dangerous; according to our friends at We’re All Ears, they’re completely unnecessary.

In most cases, earwax is healthy and does not need to be removed. While it’s easy to see it as “dirty”, it plays an important part of your body’s defence system, keep the ear clean, lubricated and protected against water, bacteria and other unwanted intrusions.

Secondly, left to its own devices, your body naturally gets rid of wax on its own. Every time your jaw moves, wax will get gradually pushed outward. (In other words, by taking, chewing or yawning, you are effectively cleaning your ears!) Even the vapour of a simple shower can loosen and remove wax.

In fact, the very skin in our ears will naturally grow in an outward spiral and shed, taking the wax with it.

Sometimes, however, wax can build up beyond the natural and expected amount, creating blockages and temporary hearing difficulty. This can be a genuine concern, but a quick trip to the doctor can resolve this safely and painlessly.

By trying to remove such a blockage at home, however, it could have the opposite effect. In many cases, cotton swabs can push earwax further into the canal rather than removing it.

As a general rule, no foreign objects should be pushed into the ear canal. The eardrum can rupture extremely easily, and it’s an incredibly painful experience. Even for those more cautious, the skin of the outer ear canal can easily scratch, paving the way for infection.

Do you clean your ears with cotton swabs? And if so, have you found it hard to kick the habit? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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This post is sponsored by Connect Hearing. For more information, please follow the links below.