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Updated clinical guidelines published in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery say cotton swabs are not appropriate for earwax removal. In fact, information for patients in the guidelines say no to putting anything "smaller than your elbow in your ear."
Regardless, most of us hoard a stash of the soft-tipped paper sticks; they seem so perfectly suited to that dirty job.
So the authors of the guidelines -- an advisory panel of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery -- have injected a little bit of freshness into the usual advice, giving more explanation as to "Why not?" They even included a consumer representative on the panel.