Eyes , Ears , Nose & OralHealth

Why Shouldn’t Use Cotton Swabs to Clean Your Ears

Between 1990 and 2010, more than a quarter of a million children in global wise are admitted to hospital emergency rooms on account of injuries sustained from cotton buds.

Have you ever been tempted to clean your ears or your children’s ears with cotton swabs or Q tips? Then the experts have one word of advice: don’t do that!

These cotton buds where Invented by Polish-American Leo Gerstenzang in the 1920s, actually the cotton bud was originally conceived as a baby hygiene product.
since then They’ve gone on to be used for a multitude of purposes, including for touching up makeup or nail polish, cleaning household items and for arts activities but unfortunately for few things one should not use that is your ears.

Research studies and surveys regarding use of cotton buds

  • In a large scale survey in India it has shown that , only 12 per cent were found to be using cotton buds correctly, meaning that they never use them for removing wax from their ears.

 

  • According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, just 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults have this problem.

 

  • Between 1990 and 2010, more than a quarter of a million children in global wise are admitted to hospital emergency rooms on account of injuries sustained from cotton buds.

 

  • It’s also estimated that more than 13,000 children in the US are hospitalized due to use of cotton buds on an annual basis.

 

  • Of the 1,730 surveyed for the study, more than a fifth said that their only use for cotton buds is cleaning their ears.

 

  • According to new research conducted by YouGov, 62 per cent of Brits said one of their uses for cotton buds was to clean their ears.

 

  • The study also found that the men are more likely than women to exclusively use cotton buds for earwax removal, with 31 per cent of men admitting to doing so, in comparison to 14 per cent of women.

Its not the fault of the market but self education

The Cotton swabs that are sold in the market may seem to be very harmless enough, but they can be so dangerous when used to clean your ears.

Most people use the  Q-Tips to remove excess wax and debris from their ear canals, but there are many catastrophes resulting from using cotton swabs.

Swabs are great for use for many things, but they are not meant to be used to clean your ears. By forcing and they can be used in different purposes, so it is not wrong that cotton buds are sold in the market.

By using a cotton bud into your ear, you’re essentially pushing wax debris deeper inside your ear but not help in aiding for removal of the wax.

Some of the most interesting things that people use that are seen in doctors’ offices apart from Cotton swabs (Q-Tips) include:

  • Hair pins
  • Tweezers
  • Pens and pencils
  • Straws
    Paper clips
  • Toys

Ear wax accumulates much faster for some people than others.

When excess wax build-up in your ear than it can cause decreased ability to hear and in some instances, pain.

As an easy way to avoid seeing a medical professional, many people resort to using swabs to remove that excess wax, thinking it has no harm in using causing.

What is Ear wax or cerumen? is it harmful to your ear ?

There are two primary types of earwax 

  • Wet cerumen typically appears in Caucasians and Africans
  • Dry cerumen is among Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asians

By the color of your cerumen, there are different types

  • Dark brown or black colored earwax is typically older, so its color comes from the dirt and bacteria it has trapped. Adults tend to have darker, harder earwax.
  • Dark brown earwax which is tinged with red may signal a bleeding injury.
  • Light brown, orange or yellow earwax is healthy and normal.
  • Softer, lighter-colored earwax -children tend to have
  • White, flaky earwax indicates you lack a body-odor producing chemical.

Functions of ear wax 

Earwax (cerumen) is supposed to be in your ears. It has a various functions

  • Its healthy by trapping dust and dirt so that they don’t travel deeper into your ear.
  • Having a waxy coating on your delicate ear canal skin also helps to protect it. The inside of your ear doesn’t need to be cleaned because earwax is the cleaner.
  • Plays a vital role in keeping our ears in good shape. Cerumen – the proper name for earwax – works like a filter for the delicate ear canal, trapping dirt and dust. Removing this leaves the ear vulnerable to pollution.
  • It also helps keep water out of the ear and kills bacteria, thanks to its slightly acidic makeup.

What does cotton bud harm you ear?

The eardrum is the membrane in your ear that helps in hearing and preventing infection go beyond from the external ear.

As we’ve been told many times before, using a cotton bud to shifting earwax usually pushes it further down the ear canal. Eventually, the wax becomes compacted, blocking the ear and dulling hearing.

Your cotton buds can easily reach the ear drum when kept in your ear canal . Because the eardrum is so delicate, it can be easily ruptured by using even the gentlest pressure when using a swab.

Having  a Ask a punctured eardrum  isn’t a pleasant experience. The pain is so severe and the ear may also leak a clear fluid. While a punctured eardrum will heal, it can take a while and can even lead to conductive hearing loss.

Do we really have to clean our ears?

There are different natural mechanisms by which ear can clean itself:

  • The outer ear or the pinna benefits from a good cleaning every now and then. This can be accomplished when you normally shower
  • In most cases, the ear canal does not need to be cleaned. During hair washing or showers, enough water enters the ear canal to loosen the wax that has accumulated.
  • The skin in your ear canal naturally grows in an outward, spiral pattern. As it sloughs off, ear wax goes with it. Most of the time the wax will loosen and fall out on its own while you are asleep. so need for a cotton swab isn’t necessary.

Signs of too much earwax blocking the ear canal include:

  • Pain or itching
  • A feeling that your ear is full
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Hearing loss (or a change in how well hearing aids work, for those who use them)
  • Odor or discharge (source)

How ear buds are hazardous to environment

The announcement was made following a campaign to combat marine pollution.
A company stated that it was going to use paper instead of plastic for the stick of the buds.
In January 2018, the Scottish government announced that the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds was going to be outlawed in the country, in an effort to tackle marine litter. (source)

A case reported after use of cotton buds

A young man, aged about 31 and otherwise healthy, started having severe seizures and violent headaches. He had even forgotten his family and friends names and later he collapsed and shifted to hospital.

In Coventry Hospital, it was discovered that he had two pus-filled abscesses on the lining of his brain.
Doctors also found a piece of cotton bud buried deep inside his left ear. This fragment had caused necrotising otitis externa, a severe bacterial infection that begins in the ear canal and can reach the skull, where it eats through bone.
Other symptoms include a facial droop much caused by facial nerve are damaging.

This young man’s case was documented in the journal BMJ Case Reports, which also noted that although he didn’t know how long the bud could have been in his ear, he had experienced “intermittent left ear pain and hearing loss” for the past five years.

One removal under anesthetic and eight weeks of intravenous antibiotics, and the patient made a full recovery – of the infection and of his cotton bud habit.
This is an extreme example of the dangers of cleaning your ears with cotton buds, and other possible conditions include infections, impacted earwax, perforated eardrums and tinnitus.(source)

How do you know if your ear is impacted?

if you have imp-action, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Aching in the affected ear
  • Fullness or ringing in the ear
  • Impaired hearing in the affected ear
  • An odor coming from the affected ear
  • Dizziness
  • A cough

You will be more likely to develop excess wax if your use hearing aids or ear plugs.

Best ways to remove wax without cotton buds

The safest way to remove wax buildup from your ears is to visit your doctor.

At your appointment, your doctor can use special instruments, like a cerumen spoon, forceps, or suction device, to clear the blockage. Many offices also offer professional irrigation.

Earwax softener

Many pharmacies sell over-the-counter eardrops that soften wax. These drops are typically a solution. The use of these drops are only advised after your consultation with your doctor

They may contain:
Benzocaine Chlorbutol (5%w/v)

Paradichlorobenzene (2%w/v)

turpentine Oil (15%w/v)

The various products come in name of soliwax , dewax etc

Syringing

You may also choose to irrigate your ears using a syringe but this process, should always be done by the doctor.

This method is often more effective if you use wax softener couple of days before irrigating.

You shouldn’t attempt to irrigate your ears if:

  • you have diabetes
  • you have a compromised immune system
  • you may have a hole in your eardrum
  • you have tubes in the affected ear

Probing and suctioning

This two procedure are done in the Doctors chamber for the removal of the wax. These two procedures near professional experience to clear the problem.

 

When to see your doctor

If you develop a blockage and don’t treat it, your symptoms can get worse.

You may develop further ear irritation and even hearing loss. The wax may also accumulate to such a level that it may become difficult for your doctor to see inside of your ear and diagnose other issues.

Your doctor can look inside of your ears to determine if your symptoms stem from wax buildup or something else. You have to rush to the hospital if you find the following signs

The signs of ear infection in adults include:

  • Pain in the middle ear
  • Fluid drainage
  • Impaired hearing
    Ear infection symptoms typically develop rapidly. If you notice pain and drainage from your ears, don’t try to treat it on your own.

If you experience earwax impaction more than once per year or have certain risk factors, tell your doctor. You may want to schedule routine professional cleanings every six to 12 months.

How to protect your ears

  • Don’t insert small objects into your ears.
  • Limit your exposure to loud noises. Wear protective headgear or earplugs when the noise gets too loud.
  • Take periodic breaks from using your headphones, and keep the volume low enough that no one else can hear your music.
  • Don’t raise the volume in your car’s sound system up too high either.
  • Dry out your ears after swimming to prevent swimmer’s ear.
  • Pay attention to any hearing changes that occur with the use of certain medications.
  • If you notice changes, balance issues, or ringing in your ears, contact your doctor.

Ear candling is it safe?

You may see a lots of advertisements and experts having a variety of ways of prizing out your preciously collected wax, but generally they’ll try to “float” the wax out of your ears using squirts of warm water, or they’ll push a tiny little hose into your ear canal that sucks it out.

practice of popping a burning candle into your ear – because there’s unsurprisingly little evidence that it works and it is quite dangerous.

You should not use ear candles under any circumstances. At best they will do nothing and at worst they can be harmful,” recommends Audiology Australia.

Scientific analysis of ear candles has found that they do not remove earwax, but can deposit candle-wax in the ear.

Ear candles are another option you should avoid. The long, cone-shaped candles are inserted into the ear canal and then lit on fire to draw wax upward with suction. The fire can injure you, or you can accidentally get wax from the candle inside of your ear. (source)

CONCLUSION:

Most people use the Q-Tips to remove excess wax and debris from their ear canals, but there are many catastrophes resulting from using cotton swabs.
Swabs are great for use for many things, but they are not meant to be used to clean your ears.

Your cotton buds can easily reach the ear drum when kept in your ear canal . Because the eardrum is so delicate, it can be easily ruptured by using even the gentlest pressure when using a swab.
Having a Ask a punctured eardrum isn’t a pleasant experience. The pain is so severe and the ear may also leak a clear fluid. While a punctured eardrum will heal, it can take a while and can even lead to conductive hearing loss.

It is always good to take a doctors appointment and get the solutions of the problems as there are many other ways to get rid of excess ear wax.

For more articles click here:

What is Sinusitis and How it is Cured

What is Difference Between Sinus Headache and Migraine Headache ?

Person Gone Blind After Wearing Contact Lens in Shower

10 Things You Should Never Do After Eating

Self life hacks

Doctor by profession and blogger by passion

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