I was asked to comment on health mistakes people make for an article by Michael Martin. I was quoted about removing ear wax from ears, and how patients can make the problem worse (or even create new problems) by using objects to try and get the wax out themselves.
While impacted wax (wax that fully clogs the ear canal) can be problematic and cause a hearing loss, it is generally not a good idea for people to try to clean wax out of their ears by sticking objects into the ear canal. There are a lot of products I've seen patients use ranging from cotton swabs to pins, and this can be dangerous. The skin of the ear canal is very thin and can be easily injured. Additionally it is possible to push too hard and cause an injury to the eardrum, bones of hearing or worse. Ear wax is actually there for a reason- it is there to protect the ear from a variety of problems, including infections of the ear canal. Not only can you cause physical injuries to the ear canal by placing objects inside to try to clear it out, but you can also predispose yourself to infection. The body has mechanisms to clear excessive wax naturally and some products like mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide can soften the wax to make this easier. If you find that wax is building up to the point where it is affecting your hearing it is best to see the doctor about it rather than trying to fish it out yourself.