(KWES) - It's something many of us don't particularly like to talk about, cleaning wax out of our ears. Doctors say many are doing it wrong.
"[There are] several things that using Q-tips could lead to that you don't want," said head and neck physician, Dr. Raphael Nwojo.
Most us use some type of cotton swab, but doctors say that method could cause more harm than good.
"With Q-tips, you can push the earwax closer to your ear drum and impact it and that can cause hearing loss," said Nwojo.
The American Academy of Head and Neck Surgery says earwax is a self cleaning agent and is meant to be in our ears.
"It's natural. Just like your skin produces dead skin and oil. It's the same thing in your ear," said Nwojo.
Nwojo said many of his patients come in not even knowing their doing something wrong.
You should never insert Q-tips, hair pins, car keys, or toothpicks into your ear canal to clean it.
Instead, Dr. Nwojo recommends using baby oil.
"A drop of it or two drops of it at night and you close the ears with some cotton balls," said Nwojo. "Wake up in the next morning take the cotton balls off. The baby oil helps to basically dissolve the earwax. Baby oil will also moisturize the skin of the ear canal."
You want to get your ears checked at least once a year.
Sometimes the earwax can build up. In these cases, you can get your ears cleaned at the doctors office.
If you experience sudden hearing loss, seek medical attention immediately.
The dos and don'ts of healthy ear care:
- Don't over clean. Too much cleaning can irritate the ear canal.
- Don't use any object to clean the ear canal. They can injure your ear and cause a cut in the ear canal, a hole in the eardrum or dislocation of the hearing bones. All of these can lead to dizziness, ringing, and hearing loss.
- Don't use ear candles. Candling can cause damage to the ear canal and eardrum.
- Do seek medical help if you are experiencing hearing loss, ear pain, and ear fullness.
- Do seek medical attention with drainage, bleeding, and ear pain.