Hearing Loss, Ear Wax, and Q-Tips.

Did you know that one of the main causes of (temporary) hearing loss is cerumen build-up. And what is cerumen? EAR WAX!

But wait! Even though ear wax build-up is bad, I am advising my readers against daily ear waxing with cotton swabs (or more commonly known as Q-tips). Here is the problem: although ear wax can be annoying, gross, and can cause hearing loss if it accumulates to really high levels, it is still very important. Ear wax is a part of the immune system, protecting the ear from pathogens as they get stuck in this sticky substance.

Q-tips are dangerous because they can rupture the ear drum (i.e. the tympanic membrane). It is a very delicate membrane at the end of the ear canal and as such, one deep swipe of a Q-tip can puncture it, leading to temporary hear loss. Q-tips can compact ear wax too; as they are pushed into the ear, they can compact ear wax, which can lead to a cerumen blockage and thus hearing loss. Moreover, Q-tips can remove too much ear wax (keep reading to learn more).

The best way to clean ears is to flush the ear with water (about once a week): pour water into the ear and then drain. Flushing the ear with water is the safest way to clean the ear. All you need to do is tilt the ear up while in the shower, let some water get in the ear, then tilt the ear down to drain the water out. If showers aren't your thing, then submerge the ears underwater next time you're in the bath. These water effusions are safe, non-invasive, and remove any excess cerumen, leaving some behind for defense. The other plus of using water instead Q-tips is that the water can flush deeper than any tip could reach.

And despite everything said, you can still use Q-tips! I just wouldn't recommend using them daily. If you are going to use them, just don't dig deep! Only use them to remove any wax that may line the most external part of the ear.

Happy Long Weekend, Everyone! I'll be back tomorrow with a Thanksgiving inspired recipe :)

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