Be careful when wielding a Q-tip to clean your ears. Pushing the cotton swab in too far can rupture an eardrum and, in severe cases, cause facial paralysis or vertigo.
Fortunately, a recent study of 1,540 eardrum-rupture patients shows that most ruptures don't require surgery and can heal on their own, usually within two months.
Instead of using cotton swabs, some doctors recommend placing four or five drops of a vinegar-and-water mix into your ear weekly or combining equal parts of cool peroxide and hot water and irrigating your ear once or twice a month. You can also have your doctor remove your earwax.
Source: Henry Ford Health System, April 28, 2011; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50