Dangers of using ear buds

Aster News


Dangers of using ear buds


People fail to understand that in their effort to clean their ears using cotton swabs, hair pins, finger, car keys etc., they are causing severe damage to their ears. These are not objects meant be 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 permanent hearing loss.

Dr Rahul Chandrabhan Gupta, ENT consultant at Aster Clinic, said: “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 realise is that by using ear buds 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.

Dr Sanjay Arora, specialist otolaryngology (ENT), NMC Speciality Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said: “Especially in the UAE because of humidity chances of getting fungal infections is very high because of scratches and macerations in ear canal. Wax problems are common in all age groups but are more common in children because of their canals being narrow. Also it is more common in people who are wearing hearing aids.”

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 ear drum is extremely sensitive and can be ruptured even with the slightest pressure from a ear bud.

Dr Naveen Gupta, ENT specialist at Zulekha Hospital, said: “As a result, there is no specific age bracket for wax accumulation as it is not a disease. Wax accumulation can start to form in babies a few months old to elderly people.

“Wax is a normal thing to form in the ear as it is a mixture of the ear skin secretions, dead cells of skin and trapped foreign bodies. It lubricates the ear skin and prevents dryness and infections. As it forms, it clears out in the particle form from the ear canal on its own. In some people it forms more or its movement is not fast enough leading to accumulation in the ear canal. These people need to consult an ENT specialist for its removal.”

Ear blockage due to earwax impaction is not very common, just one in 10 children and one in 20 adults have this problem, some people may be more susceptible to  earwax build up.  “When you want to clean your ear from water after taking shower, the advice is only to use piece of tissue to clean the pinna and the outer opening of ear canal. Don’t try to introduce something into your ear canal to clean it, as the ear will clean itself without any foreign aides,” explained  Dr Mohammad Jabr , ENT surgeon at Medcare Hospital, Dubai.

“Your body already has a way to deal with earwax if no longer needs. Chewing and skin growing inside your ear will push old earwax out naturally. Using cotton buds can push the wax deeper into your ear canal. You might also seriously damage sensitive ear canal skin or your eardrum.”

So how does anyone maintain clean ears? Gently clean the outer side of the canal using cotton swabs if necessary. In case you have excess ear wax ask your doctor to give the right diagnosis and have it cleaned either by irrigation, suction or by a curette, said  Dr Mohammad Samir Youssef, specialist otolaryngologist, Al Tadawi Medical Centre.

He warned that improper use of earbuds may put hearing at risk and it can be permanent damage in one or both ears. “Some people use different objects to clean the ear. However, this is wrong and unhealthy as it might cause ear infection and many serious symptoms like severe pain in your ear, itchy sensation, coughing, conductive hearing loss, an odour coming from your ear, dizziness and in worst case scenario, a punctured eardrum.

Know how to 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 you 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 ear bud to clean the outside of your ear. It is best to avoid inserting anything into your ear to clean it, even a ear bud.

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.

Using ear buds

If a person is having ear wax (cerumen) in ear canal and uses buds to clean it, then instead of cleaning cerumen, it pushes it deep in the canal and further makes it hard by beating. This impacted cerumen causes severe ear pain and hearing loss.

Risk of putting objects in ear

>Wounds or scratches on the external ear tissue

>Bacterial, fungal or other infections

>Swelling of the canal, obstruction, and severe pain

>Hearing impairment

>Ringing in the ear

>Body imbalance

>Odour or discharge


News Source :- Khaleej Times   – http://bit.ly/2AjcHkV