Do you use Q-Tips to clean your ears? If you said, “yes”, then you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans use Q-Tips for a hygienic purposes—and cleaning ears is one of them.

However, an ENT specialist would say this is a huge no-no. In fact, sticking anything into your ears puts you at risk for repeat infections and even damaging your eardrums.

Visit here to read some good tips on how to take care of your ears, and even prevent hearing loss.

Where Did Q-Tips Come From?

Q-Tips were first invented in 1923 by Gerstenzang, and were initially designed to help mothers with baby care. They were known as “Baby Gays”, which was the first sanitized cotton swab.

Through the years, cotton swabs were made of wood, single-sided, and were used for just about everything—including cleaning your ears.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that manufacturers began advising and issuing warnings about using cotton swabs in the ears.

Today, if you go to the store and purchase a box of Q-Tips, the box clearly warns purchasers to use caution when using a Q-tip inside the ear.

Learn 686 more about the birth of cotton swabs here.

WHY Do We Clean Our Ears?

As we discussed, the most popular reason for using Q-Tips is to clean the ears. But let’s take a step back for a second. Who ever said that we need to clean our ears?

We are under the notion that earwax is disgusting and needs to be cleaned out. However, our bodies actually produce earwax not as a form of “excretion” so to speak, but rather for protection.

The Q-Tip Conundrum

The scientific word for “earwax” is Cerumen, which is more of a water-soluble mixture, self-cleaning agent produced inside the ear than it is a “wax”.

Ironically, earwax (or Cerumen) keeps our ear canals clean to avoid dust, dirt, and other bacteria from getting into our ears and doing some serious damage.

The skin in our ears is incredibly sensitive, and not only does using a Q-tip to clean out earwax on a frequent or even regular basis, but using one to “clean” out your ears can actually push earwax farther into the ear, scratch off that protective layer of skin, potentially doing damage, causing hearing loss, and even increasing your chances for an infection.

The Safe Way to Clean Ears

The only time you really need to clean your ears is if you begin to experience hearing loss. And only then, the cleaning should be left to a medical professional, or even an ENT specialist.

In fact, about 12 million Americans go to the doctors every year due to an excessive buildup of earwax. The more frequently you clean your ears, the higher your chances for an infection.

Read more about the purpose and protection of earwax here.

In 2008, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) listed cotton swabs as harmful for using to clean out the inner ear and remove earwax.

Check out this site to learn more about warnings issued around using Q-Tips.

How to Know if It’s Time to See an ENT Specialist

If you are an avid Q-tip user, and you think you might have done some damage to your ear, then it may be time to see your doctor or ENT specialist.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of impacting earwax in your inner ear—and signs you might need a medical professional:

  • Pain and/or discomfort
  • Fullness or pressure
  • Itching
  • Odor
  • Discharge
  • Cough
  • Hearing loss

When it’s Time to See an ENT Specialist in Boynton Beach

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or if you have questions about a possible infection or hearing loss, then it’s time to give an ENT specialist in Boynton Beach a call.

Visit here to find out more information on visiting an ENT specialist, and what you can expect. Call us to get relief today.