Are Q-tips Harmful to Your Ears?
Dear Dr. Mary,
I gradually have been losing my hearing over the past few months, and I am very concerned that I cannot hear well anymore. My ears feel like they are full of cotton. I use Q-tips regularly and usually earwax comes out on the Q-tip. I also tried using an at-home earwax removal kit I purchased at the pharmacy; however, it hurt my ears and seemed to make everything worse. I’m not sure what to do at this point and would be open to any advice to get my ears back to normal.
Sincerely, Clogged Caleb, Woodstock
Dear Clogged Caleb,
You came to the right place for answers! This is something, as audiologists, we see daily. Earwax is a natural byproduct of the body, and it is a good thing. Earwax moisturizes your ear canals, keeps out particles and bugs and maintains the pH balance in your ear.
However, sometimes earwax can cause problems. One common problem related to earwax involves Q-tips. When you use Q-tips, the bulk of the earwax is pushed further into your ear than normal. This is detrimental to the natural processes of the ear and can cause an accumulation of earwax that ends up blocking your hearing. A blockage in the ear caused by earwax can give you a feeling of being off-balance, difficulty hearing, pain or may even cause an ear infection. If you have any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you contact your hearing healthcare professional immediately for removal.
Yours Truly, Dr. Mary Swantek
– Dr. Mary Swantek joined North Georgia Audiology in 2019. She earned her doctorate degree from the University of Florida and her bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University.