We are exposed to dirt and dust every time we step outside the house and sometimes even inside the house. You can take a bath to clean the outside of your body, but what about the inside? We brush our teeth and floss to keep our mouth clean; however the major reason for concern arises when it comes to cleaning our ears.

People feel the need to clean their ears due to the buildup of a sticky liquid called cerumen (commonly known as earwax). Unfortunately, the most common tool used to clean earwax is a cotton swab, which is extremely dangerous. Doctors strictly advise against the use of these tiny sticks, primarily because cotton swabs were never intended to be used in the ear canal. In fact, many packages of cotton swabs clearly warn in bold font that the items should not be used inside the ears to clean earwax.

Why does earwax form?

The root cause of the problem is earwax or cerumen. This is a waxy oil produced by the cells of your ear in order to protect it against dust, foreign particles and microorganisms. Many studies indicate that earwax also helps keep nasty insects out of our ears when we are sleeping. So, all in all, earwax does more good than harm. But let’s be honest, it is disgusting to look at and pretty irritating.

Many people have a heavy buildup of earwax that can lead to some symptoms, such as pain, dizziness, coughing or drainage from the ear. The biggest mistake people make is to try and clean the buildup at home using sub-par methods, such as cotton swabs, bobby pins, pens or pencils and keys.

Why is it dangerous to use cotton swabs?

Cotton swabs are most commonly used to get rid of earwax buildup at home. When excess earwax builds up and hardens in your ear, the worst thing you can do is push it further down the ear canal with the aid of your beloved cotton swab. Not only does this blockage cause temporary hearing loss, you are also at a risk of an even dangerous consequence of using cotton swabs: rupturing the eardrum. A ruptured eardrum can be extremely painful and may cause conductive hearing loss. In some cases it may take up to several weeks to heal properly before the patient can hear once again.  

How can I clean my ears?

Nature has its own way of taking care of itself. Every time you take a shower and wash your head, enough water enters your ear to loosen the earwax and make it fall out. In addition, the skin inside the ear canal grows in an outward spiral, sloughing off slowly while taking the earwax out with it. So that when you sleep, the earwax inside your ears falls out eventually on its own. However, if you have excess earwax buildup that is particularly uncomfortable and hinders hearing, visiting a professional to clean your ears is the right course of action.