The Q-Tip: Hero Or Menace?

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Notice the warning. (Carey Goldberg/WBUR)
Notice the warning. (Carey Goldberg/WBUR)

The Q-tip is a source of pleasure for many people — there's just something about cleaning out your ears that feels so good.

Even though Q-tips look like they are designed to fit inside your ear, it turns out that is not the way to use them.

But, as Carey Goldberg, host of WBUR's CommonHealth blog puts it, "how can something that feels so good be so wrong?"

Goldberg talked to medical experts who said misusing Q-tips can, "cause all kinds of problems: from punctured ear drums to impacted ear wax.”

Goldberg's story "Why You Really, Truly Should Not Put Q-Tips Into Your Ears" back in November prompted such a massive response, she recently wrote a follow-up piece with more expert advice.

Even though it might seem intuitive to want to clean out your ears if they feel blocked up, Goldberg says the ear canal is designed to be self-cleaning.

Goldberg said the general rule for ear health is pretty simple: "If you leave your ears alone, they’ll leave you alone.”

This segment aired on July 12, 2013.


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