Here’s Why it’s a Bad Idea to Stick Cotton Buds in Your Ears

Cotton buds is a household essential for many of us, but now health professionals have warned that using them could potentially damage your hearing.

But why do we have ear wax in the first place and what kind of damage can cotton buds cause? National charity Action on Hearing Loss has the answers.

Ear wax – it’s brown, sticky, and many of us don’t want it; it’s gross! You may even be wondering what the point of it is. Well, it is mostly harmless and even has a lot of good qualities, like protecting our ears from nasty bugs and germs.

However, some people produce far too much wax or are prone to their ears blocking up, which is one of the biggest causes of temporary hearing loss. It’s also a major cause of hearing aid failure.

If you are worried about a blocked ear because of wax the biggest temptation is of course reaching for the cotton buds.

But in a new report published by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), experts said that using cotton buds could push the wax further down into the ear causing damage to the ear canal and ear drum.

It also states that ear syringing, where a large manual syringe is used to pump water into the ear, is potentially harmful and should no longer be used.

Gemma Twitchen, Senior Audiologist for Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Actually for many of us, wax is not an issue and believe it or to our ears are self-cleaning. If you are worried about a blocked ear because of wax  many of us automatically use cotton buds, or even worse hair pins, or anything else you think you may be able to fit into your ears. I’ve even heard of people sticking their car keys in their ears! So, what can you do about it?

“We strongly do not recommended putting anything in your ears as it can make the matter worse- all of these can push the wax further down into the ears and make it harder for the wax to come out of the ear naturally.

“If you have any trouble with your ears, consult your GP who will arrange the best course of action to remove it safely, if need be. Ensure you see a medical professional right away if you or a loved one experience sudden hearing loss and follow up with a hearing care professional or audiologists for further care.”

Diana Simpson

Diana is a passionate journalist and a curious soul who is on the quest of finding what she loves the most; coffee, dogs, books or traveling? Born and bred in London, writing is her healing power.