Cotton swabs: Cotton swabs are harmful to the ears

Use a cotton swab if your ears are blocked or if you have wax? ENT doctors advise against it. Cotton swabs do even more harm. It is better to see a doctor.

Cotton swabs in the bathroom are a part of many households. But actually they should be taboo there, as the professional association of ear, nose and throat doctors advises. Cotton swabs do not help against clogged ears – on the contrary: “They just push the wax deeper into the ear,” warns Löhler. There is also the risk of injuring or even puncturing the eardrum. Sometimes the wax is pushed onto the eardrum.

ENT doctors warn: Cotton swabs can be dangerous

Image: Kaarsten –

“That makes cleaning more difficult and possibly more painful, because the doctor has to scrape the dirt off the eardrum.” And also of sprays or rinsing balls, with which you should be able to clean your ears yourself, you should better keep your hands off: They “have a limited use, especially because you cannot look yourself in your ear.”

What helps against clogged ears?

But what do you do if after washing your hair suddenly everything sounds dull and even shaking it doesn’t help?

Go to the doctor, sat Jan Löhler, himself an ENT doctor. Because usually there is ear wax behind it, which has swelled up by the water. The specialist removes it with a tick, or he rinses out the ears. According to the medical association, the health insurance companies bear the costs.

Why do many people suffer from stuffy ears?

If some people have blocked ears more often than others, it may depend on a number of factors. To some extent it is predisposition and depends on gender: Men are more likely to be affected than women, as Löhler says. But even those who regularly close their ear canal, for example who have to wear noise protection at work, have a hearing aid or sleep with earplugs, have an increased risk of clogged ears.

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In principle, ear wax is useful, as Löhler emphasizes: “It has a nourishing and antibacterial effect. And it protects the ear canal from dirt and dust from penetrating deeper.” AZ / dpa


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