(NBC News) – People use all sorts of things to clean out their ears: Cotton swabs, hair pins, even pencils.
Experts say that’s not only dangerous, it’s usually unnecessary.
Many people are compelled to clean their ears as part of their usual bathing routine, but earwax is not dirty. It’s actually a healthy thing, guarding your inner ear against dirt and other small particles. It also has antibacterial properties and may help protect against infections.
Experts with the American Academy of Otolaryngology say cleaning ears out too much can cause major problems.
“It’s quite easy to abrate or scratch the skin in the ear canal, which can lead to a pretty nasty infection,” explains Dr. Seth Schwartz. “There’s also a risk that you can actually rupture or penetrate the eardrum, which can lead to really terrible problems as far as hearing and balance issues.”
It is possible that earwax can build up too much, causing slight hearing loss or even dizziness. In those cases, it’s best to see a doctor.