We all know the oddly satisfying feeling of using a cotton bud to clean our ears and how good it feels to get rid of ear wax buildup. However, doctors are cautioning against this seemingly harmless practice, revealing that it may do more harm than good. Understanding the significance of ear wax and opting for safer alternatives is the best way to keep your ears healthy.
The Importance of Ear Wax
Ear wax, often viewed as an annoyance, plays a crucial role in ear health. It acts as a shield, trapping dust, bacteria, and germs. It protects the delicate ear canal skin from irritation caused by water exposure and other harmful substances.
Yet while most people’s ear wax gets rid of itself on its own, some face issues due to their ear glands producing too much, and these people often turn to cotton buds to get rid of it.
The Pitfalls of Cotton Buds
For those who decide to manage troublesome ear wax at home, the common go-to is a cotton bud. However, doctors advise against this method. People use them to try to get buildup out of their ears, but using a cotton bud actually pushes the wax deeper into the ear, making it even harder to remove, both naturally and artificially. Dr. Martin Scurr warns of potential damage to the sensitive ear canal lining and, more severely, perforation of the eardrum.
The repercussions of improper ear cleaning go beyond simple discomfort. In extreme cases, cotton buds can damage structures behind the ear canal, leading to issues such as deafness, vertigo, vomiting, loss of taste, and even facial paralysis.
So what’s a safer way to get rid of pesky ear wax, you ask? Wax-softening drops available at local pharmacies offer a gentler solution. These wax-softening drops loosen up the dirt and grime inside the ear and make it easier for you to remove it gently without the aggressive use of cotton buds.
However, Dr. Scurr says that if your buildup is bad enough, you should seek advice from medical professionals, and emphasizes never, ever stick an object in your ear!