Cotton swabs. Cotton buds. Ear candles. These seemingly harmless devices millions of people use around the world to clean their ears. But these tools aren’t as harmless as they seem. Most medical professionals strongly warn you not to use them. From punctured ear drums to super-impacted ear wax, the number of medical disasters commonly experienced are extensive.
How can DIY ear cleaning damage my hearing?
Patients often think that they are preventing earwax from building up by cleaning or digging their ears… But anything that fits in the ear could cause serious harm to the eardrum and canal, with the potential for temporary or even permanent hearing damage. But, how?
First, our eardrums are extremely delicate and can be ruptured just as easily as it is to put a Q-Tip in our ears. While punctured eardrums can heal, most of the time it’s very painful and causes a reduction in sound level or the inability to hear faint sounds. Second, if you’ve ever used a Q-tip to clean your ears, you’ve most likely seen some yellow or brown wax on the end. Yes, you were successful in removing some ear wax, but you’ve most likely pushed much of it back into your ear canal .
Is ear wax a good thing?
Despite what many people say, ear wax is actually a very good thing to have. The canals in our ears have specialized cells that produce cerumen (AKA ear wax), and it serves as protection for our ears, keeping dirt, dust and even water out. Cleaning out our ears completely means less protection, and sometimes may even cause dry skin that can lead to serious ear infections.
Serious injuries associated with these tools happen every day – from tripping with a Q-tip in the ear or being over aggressive in cleaning – it’s easy for anyone to seriously injure themselves.
Do we really need to clean our ears?
Yes and no. Like the rest of our bodies, a good cleaning to the outer ear every now and then has its benefits. A safe, home treatment is to place a few drops of mineral oil, glycerin or commercial drops in your ear. A wet wash cloth, hot showers or even washing our hair lets enough water into our ears to loosen any ear wax compiled.
Did you know that most of the time, ear wax loosens enough to fall out on its own in our sleep? This means DIY cleaning devices really are not necessary. But for those people who have heavy wax buildup, the safest way is to consult a hearing care professional or physician. Using an otoscope, a lighted device that assists in looking deeply into your ear canal, these specialists can assess your situation and determine the best course of action for your hearing health.
Do you have concerns about your ear wax buildup? Think you’re due for a hearing check-up? Visit us at Serangoon NEX today.