Cotton buds, also known as Q-tips and cotton swabs, are a common sight in bathrooms. They are frequently used for tasks like ear cleaning and makeup application, however, they aren’t recommended by audiologists. In fact, many professionals strongly advise against using cotton buds when cleaning your ears and despite their popularity, they can cause more harm than good. If you usually reach for a cotton bud to remove ear wax build-up in your ears, in this post we have explored some of the dangers associated with doing so and why safer alternatives like microsuction are recommended for effective ear wax removal.

Ineffective Cleaning

Although people think that cotton buds are designed to clean the ears, they aren’t actually able to effectively remove ear wax and other debris from the ear canal. They tend to redistribute the wax, typically pushing it deeper into the ear canal. As a result, you may find you need to repeatedly attempt to clean your ears, increasing the risk of injury, impaction and infection without knowing it. This ineffective cleaning process can often lead to further complications.

Impacting Ear Wax

Many people don’t realise that cotton buds can exacerbate ear wax buildup by pushing it deeper into the ear canal. This can result in the wax becoming impacted against the eardrum, causing a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as earache, a sensation of fullness and hearing loss. The impacted wax can increase the likelihood of other ear-related issues too, highlighting the importance of safer alternatives for ear cleaning. 

Damage to the Inner Ear 

One of the biggest dangers of using cotton buds to clear your ears is the risk of causing damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear. Inserting cotton buds into your ear canals can force the wax deeper into the ear towards the eardrum, often resulting in injury. This can cause abrasions, lacerations or punctures and long-term damage that can even impact your hearing. Not to mention, it can make the build-up of wax harder to remove and potentially complicate the process for professional audiologists. 

Risk of Infection

When you use cotton buds to clean your ears, there is a significant risk of introducing bacteria into the ear canal, causing infections. The warm and moist environment of the ear canal provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria growth too, which can result in ear infections that require antibiotics. If contaminated cotton buds are utilised, they can cause painful symptoms like swelling, discharge and a fever. 

Safer Alternatives like Microsuction

Given the dangers associated with using cotton buds for ear cleaning, avoiding DIY ear cleaning is always recommended by experts. Instead, you should book an appointment with an audiologist for safer alternatives like microsuction. This is often referred to as the gold standard of ear wax removal and it’s something we offer at The Hearing Hub. Microsuction is a gentle and precise method that uses a suction device to remove wax build-ups. Unlike cotton buds, microsuction allows for a controlled and thorough removal process without the risk of pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal or causing injury.

During a microsuction procedure, our experienced practitioners will use a microscope to get a detailed view of your ear canal. By examining the potential build-up of ear wax, they can precisely target the issues, ensuring a thorough removal while minimising discomfort. Of course, microsuction is a hygienic procedure too and sterile equipment is used to prevent infections. By choosing microsuction over cotton buds, you can keep your ears healthy and avoid any of the risks associated with DIY cleaning options. 

Getting Microsuction in Brentwood

While cotton buds may seem like a convenient solution for ear cleaning, they should be avoided. Instead, book an appointment for microsuction with an audiologist. At The Hearing Hub, we provide a safe and effective solution for ear wax removal and you won’t be disappointed with our high standard of service. For patients in the Pilgrims Hatch area, our clinic in Brentwood is the ideal place to visit. If it’s more convenient, we also have a clinic in Harold Wood where we can assist you. 

You can find out more about our ear wax removal services on our website and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to call us today on 0330 111 9994. We know how problematic ear wax build-up can be, so let us help you keep your ears healthy.