NOV 21, 2017 5:46 AM PST

Q-tips: You're Doing it Wrong

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Doctors like to recommend against putting anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, and this apparently includes Q-tips! Q-tips, or the small cotton swabs that are perfectly sized to dab and clean small areas of your bodies, could actually cause hearing loss when used incorrectly in the ear. Because it is so perfectly shaped for the ear canal, people who use Q-tips to clean the ears of wax can actually push the more wax into the eardrum, creating a wax plug that impacts hearing.

If you experience intermittent hearing loss without any other indication, wax buildup could be the culprit, though this should always be properly diagnosed by a physician. The good news in such cases is that hearing can be restored with removal of the waxy plug. The remedy involves a solution that dissolves part of the wax and causes it to dislodge from the eardrum. To prevent such cases from happening, doctors recommend against Q-tips in the ear; instead clean the outside part with a damp cloth or just leave it alone!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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