Doctors Say Stop Q-Tipping Your Ears, Earwax Is Good

The Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has updated its ear-cleaning guidelines

January 5, 2017
Photo: iStock

For decades, a debate has raged on among scientists, Stern Show staffers, and pretty much everyone with ears: What’s the best way to remove earwax?

Well, according to new guidelines published Tuesday in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, you shouldn’t use Q-tips. In fact, doctors said you shouldn’t put anything “smaller than your elbow in your ear,” as it may in fact damage the ear canals or eardrums.

What about alternative methods like ear candling, which Robin discussed during Wednesday’s news? Doctors say that can actually be counterproductive as earwax is generally a good thing. Much like mucus or eyelashes, it protects the body—it keeps the ears lubricated, cleaned, and well defended. Of course, if you’re like High Pitch Erik circa 2015, and you’ve got so much earwax buildup that you can’t actually hear, it may be time to consult a doctor.

“It’s not a bad thing to have wax in your ears. Everybody does and should. It’s more of an issue when it becomes too much,” Dr. Seth Schwartz, chairman of the guideline update group for the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, told CNN.

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