You Need To Stop Cleaning Your Ears With Cotton Buds Now

We humans are a strange species – it seems like we will do everything we can to defy the laws of nature and evolution – from shaving off pubic hair and using deodorants to mask body odor, to trying to get rid of ear wax with cotton swabs. Yes, as undesirable these features may be, in most cases nature knows what’s best for us and that certainly seems to be true when it comes to ear wax. The buildup of ear wax however, can cause problems, in cases even blocking the ear canal to cause partial hearing loss.

But, should you be using cotton buds for ear cleaning? Before we answer that all important question though, let’s get something else clear.

Ear Wax Plays An Important Role In Ear Health

“Ear wax is produced by the body to keep the ears clean and oiled, preventing dirt and particulate matter from penetrating further in, where it could cause damage”

To begin with, ear wax plays an extremely important role in protecting your ears, so that irresistible urge to keep them squeaky clean is something that you need to learn to resist. Ear wax is produced by the body to keep the ears clean, oiled, and for protection from foreign bodies.

Think of it as a dust trap that stops dirt and particulate matter from penetrating further into the ear, where it could cause damage. Ear wax only becomes problematic when it builds up and cannot be expelled by your body. In such cases, blockage of the ear canal leads to some amount of hearing loss and other symptoms, that will resolve when the blockage is cleared.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Cotton Buds To Clean Your Ears

“Most cases of ear wax impaction are caused by patients using cotton buds and similar objects to remove wax, which often results in ear wax being pushed deeper into the ear canal”

When there is excessive build up of ear wax it may seem like a good idea to finally reach for those cotton ear buds, but otolaryngologists or ENT specialists, who have expertise in ear, nose, and throat disorders are now warning against ear wax removal with cotton buds and other objects.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology also updated its ear care guidelines, warning against potential problems from using cotton buds or cotton swabs , ear candles, and other objects to remove ear wax. Specialists say that most cases of ear wax impaction are caused by patients using such devices, which often results in earwax being pushed deeper into the ear canal.

This can result in a sensation of pain, fullness, and ringing in the ear. Some patients also experience discharge, odor, dizziness, and partial hearing loss.

Doctors also caution people against using such ear cleaning instruments, as they pose a high risk of physical damage to the  ear drum and canal, which can result in temporary or even permanent hearing loss. A punctured ear drum is in fact one of the most serious risks, as it is exceedingly painful, results in leakage of fluid, causes hearing loss, and can take a considerable amount of time to heal.

So How Does One Maintain Ear Hygiene?

“You don’t need to use any special device to clean the outer ear and can simply use your regular soap, water, and a wash cloth to gently remove any accumulated dirt”

Cleaning your ears is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to do it right and should only focus on the outer ear, which is the visible structure of the ear. You don’t need to use any special device to clean this region and can simply use your regular soap, water, and a wash cloth.

The inner ear canal cleans itself naturally, as ear wax loosens up and falls out without any intervention. In case of excessive ear wax buildup you can simply visit your general physician to have it removed or for a ear drop prescription.

The Takeaway

So, does this means cotton buds are no longer of any use? Well, cotton buds were never really recommended for ear cleaning, so if you just bought yourself a pack of cotton buds to clean your ears, don’t fret over it too much. You can use them to clean those hard to reach crevices in household furniture or to apply or remove your makeup.

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