Would you let your kid use a razor blade?
It is a bit of a silly question, isn’t it? Of course not. However, what if I told you that there’s something your children have access to that is statistically more likely to harm them than a thin, sharp sliver of metal? What if I told you that each year, 7,000 people in England alone wind up in the hospital due to a particular practice you do every day?
Meet the friendly – or so it seems – cotton swab.
While it is almost instinctive to reach for the little cotton-tipped tools when your ear is feeling plugged, they are actually quite harmful in the delicate area of your body that is your ear.
In fact, you should not stick anything into your ear canals. You are quite likely to rupture your eardrum by pushing too forcefully or – as is most common – drive excess wax deeper into your ear, leading to hearing loss, blockages and even infections.
Why do we have earwax in the first place?
In an interview with Huffington Post, Douglas Backous, M.D. had the following to say:
“The purpose of earwax really is to keep your ear canal clean.”
It does this by keeping dust and debris away from your ear drum and canal. And the surprising part is that your ears clean themselves – Dr. Backous analogizes this to an escalator through which earwax is moved to the outer portion of your ear by jaw movements over time.
In fact, according to research, you do not even need to clean your ears unless there is a direct disturbance in your ear such as an earache, hearing loss or itchiness.
So that morning ritual of swabbing your ear with q-tips daily? Just a little over the top.
When you need to clean your ears, what method should you use?
While it is safe to clean your outer ear with a cotton swab or wet cloth, you really don’t need to insert any object into your ear canal.
Instead, placing drops of hydrogen peroxide or olive oil may loosen up the wax and aid the process of cleaning that your body naturally performs.
Ear syringing is also an option, although it is best to have a physician assist you with that – mostly because it does involve quite a bit of pressure and it is also much easier done with two hands by a second person.
If you do choose to go with one of the commercially available ear irrigation kits on the market, a good baseline is to use body temperature water to avoid dizziness.
Do not syringe both ears on the same day as this will cause incredible dizziness.
This video is very informative about proper ear care.
* Please Note: We will be covering ear candling soon.