The Dangers of Cotton Swabs
Do you clean your ears or your children’s ears out with cotton swabs? If so, you should stop immediately. A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics found that from 1990 to 2010, 263,000 children in the U.S. had to be treated in the ER for ear injuries related to cotton-tip applicators. That’s approximately 34 visits per day! Almost 75% of those involved ear cleaning, and most of the patients were under the age of eight.
According Kris Jatana, the lead author of the study and a physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, ears are usually self-cleaning. Not only that, but using a cotton tip applicator to clean the ear canal will push the wax closer to the ear drum. Cotton swab manufacturers even include warning labels against using the product in the ear.
Common injuries involving cotton swabs include ruptured ear drums, and presence of a foreign body. Most these injuries occurred when children tried to clean their own ears. However, parents, guardians and siblings also contribute to the wounds.
Many patients were treated and released. Delaying treatment could result in more injuries including dizziness, balance problems, hearing loss and facial nerve paralysis.
Next time you think you need to clean yours or your child’s ears, don’t. Ear wax is normal and beneficial to the ears. It cleans, protects and lubricates the ear canal. If you have excessive ear wax, and it’s causing hearing loss, a feeling of fullness or ear pain talk to your doctor. There are safe remedies to irrigate ear wax.