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Hearing loss may be difficult to accept and many people do not know where to begin. Our team of ENT physicians and audiologists at Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists of Wisconsin will work close with you to determine what your hearing needs are.

Our mission is to improve the lives of people with hearing loss through better hearing. Our educated, experienced audiology staff is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of hearing care in a personalized, caring environment.

Why Are Cotton Swabs Bad for Ear Cleaning?

Woman Touching Ear

Given how precious they are, it’s only natural that you wish to keep your ears in great health. As such, ear cleaning is probably one of the top items on your agenda. Like most people, using cotton swabs is probably a part of your ongoing ritual. Unfortunately, as any audiologist will confirm, this is a bad idea.

So, forget what you thought you knew about ear cleaning, especially with regards to swabs.

Cotton swabs are ineffective

After using a cotton swab, it’s fairly likely that you will see a small amount of wax. This can lull you into thinking that the cleaning ritual has worked wonders. In truth, the bulk of that wax has probably been pushed further into the ear.

This counteracts the ear’s natural self-cleaning mechanism, making it even harder for the buildup to escape. Ignore the placebo effect because those swab-related efforts are futile.

Cotton swabs are potentially dangerous

Aside from achieving very little in terms of cleaning the ear, cotton swabs can actively put your health at harm. Pushing an object into an infected ear, for example, could cause a lot of pain and may even result in an unwanted trip to the nearest E.R.

Similarly, it’s not uncommon for people to push it too deep, causing perforated ear drums and even bleeding. Whether it’s minor discomfort or a major problem, it’s better to avoid the threat altogether.

There are far better home treatments available

Even if you don’t wish to see an audiologist, it’s possible to gain a far better result from other home cleaning methods. Using ear drops to loosen the wax before flushing it out with a little tepid water and tilting of the head can work wonders. It’s far better than pushing the wax further down.

However, you must avoid using other dangerous methods such as candling. While many people believe it to be a very effective method, there is no research to back up those claims. The relief is temporary while the dangers are potentially permanent.

Audiologists provide the best treatments

If you are genuinely concerned about the general cleanliness of your ears or a potential wax buildup, seeing an audiologist is advised. They can check for other issues such as infections, which will naturally stop you from making things worse.

Moreover, an audiologist can use advanced irrigation techniques to ensure the excess wax is flushed in the most effective manner without causing any other troubles. Besides, trying to clean the ears using home methods can be a little difficult as you can’t exactly see what you’re doing.

Cotton swabs are a waste

The fact is that cotton swabs, when used for cleaning ears, do very little in terms of positivity. They signal a huge waste of money, especially if they end up causing further damage to your precious ears. Moreover, the wasted material often ends up in landfills and on beaches.

Stick to using cotton swabs for other beauty rituals, and leave them away from your ears. Even if you’ve done it for years, now is the time to stop.


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