We’ve all been there – feeling the urge to stick a cotton swab or another object into our ears to clean them out. It seems harmless, right? Wrong. While it may feel satisfying in the moment, this common practice can actually do more harm than good to your delicate ears.

Let’s dive into why you should resist the temptation to clean your ears with foreign objects and what symptoms to look out for that might indicate a visit to an audiologist is necessary.

First off, your ears are pretty amazing at cleaning themselves. The ear canal is lined with special glands that produce cerumen, commonly known as earwax. This waxy substance plays a crucial role in protecting your ears from dust, dirt, and bacteria. It also helps to lubricate the ear canal and prevent it from becoming dry and itchy. In most cases, earwax naturally makes its way out of the ear canal on its own, taking any trapped debris along with it.

So, why shouldn’t you stick things into your ears to clean them?

Well, for starters, inserting objects like cotton swabs, bobby pins, or even your finger into your ear canal can push the earwax deeper inside, leading to a buildup rather than removal. This can cause a blockage, resulting in symptoms like earache, hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

Additionally, poking around in your ears with foreign objects can cause injury to the delicate structures within the ear canal, including the eardrum. Even a minor scratch or tear in the eardrum can lead to pain, infection, and potentially permanent hearing damage.

Now, let’s talk about some symptoms that might prompt you to want to stick something in your ear and what signs indicate it’s time to see an audiologist:

Earwax buildup:

If you’re experiencing a feeling of fullness or blockage in your ear, it might be tempting to try and clear it out yourself. However, if you notice a sudden decrease in hearing, pain, or ringing in the ear along with the blockage sensation, it’s time to seek professional help.


Persistent itching in the ear can be a sign of excess earwax or an underlying skin condition. While it may be tempting to scratch that itch with a cotton swab, doing so can exacerbate the problem and potentially damage the ear canal.


If you notice any unusual discharge coming from your ear, especially if it’s accompanied by pain, fever, or a foul odor, it could indicate an infection. Inserting objects into the ear can worsen the infection and lead to further complications.

Remember, when it comes to your ears, it’s best to leave the cleaning to the professionals. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of earwax buildup, infection, or hearing loss, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. These trained specialists can safely remove excess earwax and diagnose any underlying issues affecting your hearing health.

By taking proper care of your ears and avoiding the temptation to stick things into them, you can help preserve your precious hearing for years to come.