Problem with Q-Tips?
Are Q-tips that bad of a habit?
If you measure the use of Q-tips against other healthcare related advice, using Q-tips isn’t really that bad. I mean so long as you don’t mind having muffled hearing until the ear canal occlusion is resolved.
Unlike smoking, drunk driving and poor nutrition which can all permanently affect your functional status Q-tipping is relatively benign and almost never causes any type of permanent affect.
There are exceptions
There are exceptions such as the inadvertent perforation of an ear drum which often heals spontaneously, or when nature fails the perforation can be closed surgically. Other theoretical but extremely rare considerations include injury to the middle ear bones called ossicles and driving the ossicles into the inner ear (cochlea) which could potentially cause permanent hearing loss. This complication of a Q-tip driving the ossicles into the inner ear and permanently damaging an inner ear is really one of those one in a million lottery type of events and not something I have seen in 28 years of practice.
But keep in mind I have seen plenty of eardrums perforated by an inadvertent Q-tip slip.
Remember: the Q-tip is really only a plunger compacting the wax in the canal against the ear drum. This compaction of the wax makes for an ideal plug to counteract loud noise exposure but will be frustrating in most social situations.– Dr Michael Scherl