Cotton swabs have been known as a hazardous thing to put into the ear for a long time, yet people still do it. They should not be stuck into the ear! It even has a precaution sign on the box labeled “Do not insert swab into ear canal.” Over a 21 year study, the most common diagnoses were the presence of a foreign body in the ear and eardrum perforation.
The ear canal has specialized cells that produce cerumen also known as earwax. When people feel the need to get rid of the earwax, they use a cotton swab or something small to get rid of it. Don’t! The eardrum is easily reached with a swab. Because the eardrum is so delicate, it can be easily ruptured by using even the gentlest pressure. It cuts ear canals and can even dislocate the hearing bones. Some of these things can lead to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing, or other symptoms of ear injury. The pain is severe and the ear may also leak a clear liquid.
Dr. James Battney, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states, “For those with impacted earwax, the use of cotton-tipped swabs may push the earwax deeper into the ear canal and damage the eardrum.”
Consult a professional if the ears need to be cleaned. Usually, people just lets nature do its job. The body produces earwax to keep the ears lubricated, clean, and protected from dirt, dust, etc. Anything similar to that gets stuck in
the earwax and keeps it from moving any farther into the ear canal. Usual jaw motions along with skin growth in the ear canal typically help move old earwax from inside to the outside of the ear, where it is washed off during bath time.
The Do’s and the Don’ts. Don’t “overclean” the ears. Excessive cleaning may increase earwax impaction. It is “cultural” to want clean ears, but wiping away any excess wax when it comes to the outside of the ear is enough to keep it clean. Also, do not use ear candles. Not only do they do serious damage to the eardrum, there is no evidence that they remove impacted cerumen. Among the items on the “do” list, ask a health care provider about how to treat the earwax. It is not bad to have earwax, everybody does and should. However, it becomes an issue when it becomes too much.
Remember to think twice next time before sticking anything smaller than the elbow in the ear!