Doctors: Seriously, stop sticking Q-tips in your ears.
Ryan F. Mandelbaum, Science Writer at Gizmodo.com
January 3, 2017
(Excerpt) I tingle thinking about the full-body sensation accompanying a Q-tip exploring the inside of my ear canal. The guilt-ridden pleasure is always followed by a nagging mother whisper: "don't put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear!" Well, scientists have decided to amplify that whisper.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation published an updated set of guidelines on managing ear gunk today in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. The recommendations don't contain many surprises, but they'll definitely give you a reason to worry–screw around inside your ears too much and you might give yourself earwax impaction, which is basically a stuffy nose for your ear.
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is essentially the snot that serves to grease up the inside of your ears and trap any invading dirt particles. Your body normally deals with earwax buildups just fine, by circulating old wax out of the ear where it crusts up on its own, and by growing more skin cells, according to the report. If that process breaks down though, earwax may build up in your ears making it difficult to hear or resulting in a feeling of stuffiness. Around 10 percent of children and 5 percent of adults suffer from this problem, with numbers higher in older or developmentally-delayed folks. New data on cerumen impaction motivated the release of new recommendations for how to deal with it.