The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation has published new guidelines on how to manage your ear wax – and it turns out most of us have been doing it so, so wrong.
Its report explains that the body deals with earwax build-ups naturally, by circulating old wax out of the ears all by itself.
Chewing, moving your jaw and growing new skin cells in the ear canal help to do this. It’s the circle of life… Or the circle of wax if you will.
It’s actually when this process breaks down that you get a build-up of wax. This happens in about 10 per cent of people.
The report recommends you don’t clean your ears too often, or use Q-tips. This is because they can push wax further into the ear, mucking up that natural cycle.
Doctors know it’s a natural response – but stop it anyway. Seth R. Schwartz, chair of the guideline update group, said:
There is an inclination for people to want to clean their ears because they believe earwax is an indication of uncleanliness. This misinformation leads to unsafe ear health habits.
Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning out their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles, or any number of unimaginable things that people put in their ears. The problem is that this effort to eliminate earwax is only creating further issues because the earwax is just getting pushed down and impacted further into the ear canal.
So now you know, why not lay off the Q-tips and let adorable birds use them like tiny loofahs.