Dangers of using earbuds

What are the effects of using earbuds?

Using earbuds, or Q-tips to clean the ear is an extremely common practice. Despite being told not to use them to clean the ears, people still continue to do so because it hasn’t caused them any harm until now. What people do not realize is that by using earbuds to clean their ears, they tend to push the ear wax deeper into the ear canal.

Ear wax is basically wax with dead skin from the outer ear. It could either be wet or dry, genetically. Ear wax is present in the ear to serve a purpose of protecting the inner ear, i.e. the sensitive part of the ear from any kind of damage. Additionally, it prevents the ear from becoming dry and also prevents dirt and germs from entering the inner ear, saving it from infections and irritation.

Inserting anything from a pin, finger to even a cotton bud or Q-tip in the ear puts one at the risk of developing irritation in the ear as it pushes the ear wax further deep into the ear canal. Most people use ear buds to clean their ears because it is convenient and saves them the effort of going to a specialist. This is a very dangerous practice and can even cause hearing loss because the eardrum is extremely sensitive and can be ruptured even with the slightest pressure from an earbud.

Impact of putting frequent objects in ears to clear wax?

People fail to understand that in their efforts to clean their ears using cotton swabs, hairpins, finger, car keys etc., they are causing severe damage to their ear. These are not objects meant to put in the ear. With every attempt of removing excess wax and cleaning the ear, you are putting your hearing at risk. The eardrum and bones of the middle ear are very sensitive and can be damaged very easily. If damaged, a surgery may be required to correct it, while in some cases it could even lead to a permanent hearing loss.

What measures does one adopt to maintain or keep ears free from wax

Unlike the popular belief that ears need to be cleaned every one or two days, they actually do not really need to be cleaned very often. Ears are self-cleaning, every time we move our jaw, the ear wax is moved to outside the ear and it eventually dries up or flakes off. The outer part of the ear definitely needs to be cleaned and all we need to do is use a wet cloth or towel and clean the outer part of your ear and the backside. You can also use an earbud to clean the outside of your ear. It is best to avoid inserting anything into your ear to clean it, even an earbud.

Earwax softeners are also available, they are drops that can be used, to soften the ear wax. Once this is done the ear needs to be rinsed. It is always best to use any of these products upon consultation and confirmation with an ENT specialist.

However, the safest way to clean your ears is by regularly visiting the ENT.

Dr. Rahul Chandrabhan Gupta

ENT Consultant

Aster Clinic, Al Qusais (Dafza)




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