A new study officially confirms what you might already know: using cotton swabs, commonly called Q tips®, to clean ears is associated with an increased risk of rupturing the eardrum. The good news is that the study also found that nearly all cases (97 percent) of ruptured eardrums healed on their own within two months, without requiring surgery. This is no reason for being complacent about the way you clean your ears, however.
Many people still use cotton swabs to clean their ears, and yet their use can lead to injuries to the eardrum if the user pushes the swab into the auditory canal. A ruptured eardrum isn’t the only unpleasant potential consequence of this habit, because it can occasionally lead to tinnitus, and in severe cases, to vertigo and facial paralysis. Individuals who experience symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness or abnormality in their facial movements should see a doctor immediately.
The best ear hygiene approach is to use a damp facecloth. You can also prepare a solution with equal amounts of water and peroxide, and apply a few drops to the ears. This should be done no more than twice a month, however. If a plug of earwax has formed, don’t try to remove it with a cotton swab or any other object. Pharmacies sell products to help clear such blockages, but if they don’t work, you may need to visit your doctor. If you have questions on this subject, don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist!