Common Practice Causes Serious Injury To Ears
We’ve all done it. We’ve used cotton swabs to clean out our ears. Experts tell us not to. But it’s not that big of a deal, right?
Wrong. If you’re one of the tens of millions of men who cleans inside his ears using cotton swabs (Q-Tips), think again. Sticking anything inside your ear can lead to serious damage. Read on, and I’ll explain why you really shouldn’t ever stick objects in your ears. I’ll also tell you what you can do instead.
Swabs And Worse Frequently Puncture Eardrums
I’ve got a couple of friends who work as emergency medical technicians. They tell me that you’d be surprised at the number of people who find themselves in the emergency room after doing serious damage to their inner ears.
Cotton swabs aren’t the only things people (improperly) stick in their ears. But they are the most common. And anything stuck inside your ear can cause serious injury.
The reason is that the inner ear is extremely delicate. It is inside your ear for a good reason. It needs the protection. The eardrum itself is actually just an extremely thin, delicate membrane. And any object pressed against it - even soft, cotton swabs - can tear it. When that happens it’s called a perforated eardrum.
The good news is that perforated eardrums can heal. But the bad news is much longer than the good news. The bad news starts with the fact that perforated eardrums are extremely painful. But more than being merely painful, they also make ear infections more likely. And furthermore, in some cases they can even lead to permanent deafness.
Your eardrums are at the end of the ear canals. So you should never stick anything into your ears that can enter the ear canals.
Removing Ear Wax Is Bad For Your Health
While many have been taught that ear wax is unclean and should be removed, nothing is further from the truth. The natural substance called earwax is produced by the ears for a purpose. And that purpose is to protect the ears.
Ear wax does at least two very important things. First, it holds in natural moisture in the delicate tissues within the ears, keeping them from dying out. And secondly, ear wax is naturally antibacterial. It protects the ears from infection.
Many men have gotten into the harmful habit of removing ear wax. That does several things that aren’t good. For one thing, it leaves the ears susceptible to infection. Research shows that those who regularly remove earwax have much higher rates of ear infections.
The other thing that removing ear wax does is create a vicious cycle. That’s because when you remove ear wax, the tissues dry out and get itchy. Many people then clean out the ears even more trying to get rid of the itchiness. But that only worsens the problem.
Cotton Swabs Often Compact Earwax
To make matters worse, cotton swabs often fail to remove earwax, instead compacting it against the eardrum. That’s because often the swabs fit snugly in the ear canal, and instead of removing earwax, they just push it further into the canal.
As we’ll see, for most people, excessive earwax naturally comes out of the ear on its own over time. But when it is compacted, it is unlikely to. It can be very uncomfortable and can produce hearing loss.
So there you have yet another reason not to try to clean earwax out of your ears.
Tips For Healthy Ears
So if you shouldn’t stick swabs in your ears, what should you do? The answer for most people is: nothing. That’s because for most people earwax naturally comes out on its own if it is excessive. The skin inside the ear grows in an outward pattern. So over time, growth pushes old ear wax out of the ear.
However, a small minority of people do develop excessive earwax that doesn’t come out on its own fast enough. Furthermore, with age, some people’s earwax becomes less soft and is more likely to stick in the ear.
So for those people experts suggest placing a drop or two of olive oil in the ear canal. It will mix with the earwax and soften it so that it will come out more easily. For most people that resolves the problem.
In some few cases, experts suggest pouring a capful of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the ear a minute after the drops of oil. It is recommended that you let the hydrogen peroxide remain in the ear until it stops bubbling. Then let it drain out.
Although many men have been led to believe that cotton swabs are designed just for cleaning inside the ears, that is not true. Cotton swabs should never be inserted into the ears. Doing so can be dangerous. It can produce symptoms ranging from unpleasant to extremely painful.
Earwax is a natural substance that your ears need. It is important for ear health. Don’t remove earwax mechanically. If you suffer from excessive earwax, softening it with a few drops of oil placed in the ear is safe and effective.