05 February 2006

What I Learned Over Shabbas

Over lunch yesterday, someone sitting next to me informed us in her general vicinity that one is not to put anything bigger than an elbow in one's ear. While that didn't mean much to me, she said that includes fingers and even q-tips (no, not Q-Tip, the rapper)! So, here I am, thinking, "What's the use of q-tips, anyway?" But I checked the package and, indeed, it proscribes use for inside one's ear canal. Oh well - I mean it's frustrating, because I had gotten used tot he post-shower ritual of wiping inside my ear with a q-tip and feeling cleaner. Alas, life changes.
(Someone else's blog post discusses a similar situation.)


SG said...


I feel honored to have made such an impact on your blog! Now millions of readers everywhere(or in the heights) will be spared from the dangers of those cute little cotton daggers! For years we have known of the dangers of smoking, who knew worse evil was lurking in our bathrooms :)
did you know that Qtips (not the rapper, though I think you shouldn't let him, or his music near your ears) were invented by Dr. Leo Gerstenzang? He first called them "Baby Gays", because he used them to clean his baby's ears. That wasn't too PC, so it was changed...so does the Q stand for Queer?


Drew_Kaplan said...

Actually, the Q stands for quality (see Wikipedia for this).
BTW, Q-Tip might have gone more commercial after he left A Tribe Called Quest, but, c'mon, "Breathe and Stop" and "Vivrant Thing" did have good beats to them.

tnspr569 said...

wait...so what do we do with q-tips then??? how do we clean our ears?? I'm so lost...

SG said...

take 2 and call me in the morning...

here is the "dirt" on cleaning your ears:
1. ears don't need to be cleaned, unless the wax bothers your hearing or your neshama

2. start with a cup in the shower, get some warm water into it and pour it into your ear. keep you head to the side so the water doesnt run out and stay like that for 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side. Do this every time you shower(as long as it's more than once a week this should work OK)

3. If that didn't do the trick, buy hydrogen peroxide in a drugstore/bodega/makolet. Mix half peroxide, half water( don't you feel so scientific!) and pour that into your ear. Don't let it run out for 2 minutes. You might hear a fizzle, crackle, pop... it's ok, it's jut the rocks in your head- I mean the wax in your ears. Try this 2-3 times a day (addiction can later be cured in a 12 step program.)

4. Still making havdolah candles in your ears:
go buy Debrox, it's over the counter. Follow the box instructions, not too complicated.

5. huh? what? I can't hear you through this killer wax:
if this is still the case after all the above, go to your doctor who can scoop it out with a tiny spoon called a curette/loupe.

6. Use those q tips to clean dusty things, your shower grout (I hope no one really cleans this well), or to apply makeup.

best of health!
Dr. SG

SG said...

btw in your post you got it wrong,
I said don't put anything SMALLER than an elbow in your ear.. maybe this makes more sense now?

Tim Lieder said...

Oh sure, because we all know the benefits of water stuck in our ears. Well, those of us prone to ear infections that is.

I agree that constant q-tip usage is not necessary, but there are very few people dumb enough to slip and puncture their ear drums when they have a q-tip inserted. In over 20 years of unsupervised q-tip assisted earwax removal I have yet to have any thing remotely awful happen as a result of the q-tip in my ear.

On the other hand, I have had ear infections and massive amounts of wax clogging up my ears so that I couldn't hear. Thanks for the advice, but I'll clean my ears out with q-tips just the same.

Then again I wasn't one of the people going to Emergency Room on this discussion group - http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=67019&page=4&pp=25

SG said...


pouring water into your ear and having "fluid in your ear" are two different things.
the first will easily come right out, the ear is not an endless pit, rather there is a small tube which ends in a "wall", the eardrum. When you have the second, it is fluid "behind" the eardrum, which can't get there from pouring water into your ear, unless there is a hole in the eardrum for it to pass through. It is there because it drained from inside your head(your sinuses) into the inner ear.
While you can decide to take my advice or not, I wanted you to make a more educated decision.

ps, it is not just rupturing the eardrum that is at stake, it is pushing the wax in further which is the main problem.

Dr. SG

Gatos Hombre said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gatos Hombre said...

Gatos Hombre said...
Drew...I told u this last year, but noooooo, u never listen to me.

My father (Neonatolgist/Pediatrician) said exactly like SG--q tips are bad for 2 reasons 1) punctured ear drums (my father has seen this many times 2) When u "clean" your ears with q-tips u just take off some off the surfcae gunk (like dred skin) and wax and actually compact it and push it into your ear...Thus u have made an ever growing "plug" that is hard to get out. This plug gets water stuck behind it and then u have made your ear into a bacteria garden...yeahhh!!--Swimmers ear. This is why swimmer's ear is so common when u have a lot of wax (to get rid of this plug u may need to have a doctor "spoon it out or flush pressured warm water into your ear).

SG, I still don't like your hot water idea....if people with wax do this they are more likely to get some of this water stuck behind this wax--common cause of otitus externa (swimmer's ear).

Solution: for those who don't want swimmer's ear and water stuck in there ears...Wear some plastic ear plugs in the shower and use debrox once in a while if u have wax build up.

Tanner said...

I went hiking in the mountains (colorado) , then swimming. I'm 14 and I am really starting to get concerned. When right ear pops my left does too. ever since swimming in the pool my left ear doesn't pop... it cracks. Also when I push in right above the part of the ear that hangs over the hole to the ear canal it makes this sound like someone is smashing up tissue wrapping paper in my ear. I tried cleaning out my ear but its still here and its been 5 days now. It makes it hard to sleep too because when the pillow lifts my ear up it makes the same noise. What should I do?