Experts Warn of Cotton Swabs’ Hidden Risks

Experts Warn of Cotton Swabs’ Hidden Risks

According to otolaryngology experts, scratching the ear canal with a cotton swab to get rid of the extra wax in there is not a good idea. Experts warn the practice can lead to serious injuries and infections, and you should seek a doctors’ help instead.

Dr. Seth Schwartz, who headed the team that drafted American Academy of Otolaryngology’s guidelines for treating earwax, said bobby pins aren’t safe either. Schwartz described these home-brewed methods as both ineffective and potentially risky. He explained bobby pins and cotton swabs can do more harm than good because they can push the wax deeper inside.

And on top of that, you could end up with a perforated ear drum along with an ear bleed. Experts explained the human body produces cerumen aka earwax in an effort to cleanse the ears and prevent dust and dirt from going further into them.

When the skin is renewed inside ears, it naturally pushes old earwax buildup out. It is then when the wax becomes visible and we try to remove it. Doctors, on the other hand, claim there is no hazard in having a little cerumen around the opening.

They explained the real danger occurs when the body is no longer able to flush out the extra earwax, which then accumulates and clogs the ear canal. These issues can later translate into pain, hearing loss, ringing in the ear, dizziness, and discomfort.

About 10 percent of children and five percent of adults have an earwax buildup problem. One-third of seniors experience the problem as well. Experts warn that excessive cleaning can lead to infections, irritations, and paradoxically more cerumen production.

Experts also challenged ear candles’ effectiveness because they could injure the ear canal and eardrum. Instead, patients experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms should seek a specialist. They should also seek a doctor if they aren’t very sure whether the amount of cerumen is at healthy levels.

Checkup is mandatory when ear issues are paired with bleeding and ear drainage because these problems may indicate more severe, underlying conditions. Dr. Duane Taylor who heads the MD-based Le Visage ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery said the old saying about not introducing anything smaller than your elbow in your ear still holds.

Taylor noted many patients falsely believe cotton swabs can fix their earwax issues. She noted most of the extra earwax can be gently removed with a damp cloth. The so-called Q-tips can make the wax harder to remove as they can compact it while pushing it deeper along the ear canal. Other small items can generate this problem too. Earbuds and hearing aids can push cerumen deeper into the ear. It is more advisable to use over-the-ear or on-ear headphones.

Experts also recommend using special wax removal drops, hydrogen peroxide, and baby oil to remove the visually distasteful earwax buildup while at home. Yet, if you experience ringing in the ear, pain and/or dizziness you should consult a doctor.Dr. Taylor noted primary care professionals can handle the situation by themselves. If the case is too complicated, they will refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.
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