10 November 2011

Cotton swabs are not meant for ear cleaning

There is a direct association between using cotton swabs to clean your ears and ruptured eardrums, according to a study.

When you clean your ears with a cotton swab, you risk damaging your ear drum if the swab goes too far into the ear. A study shows, that more than half of the people who visit ear, throat and nose specialists confess to using cotton swabs to clean their ears.

A ruptured eardrum, also known as tympanic membrane perforations (TMP), is a tear in the tympanic membrane, which separates the outer ear from the inner ear. A ruptured eardrum may be accompanied by sharp ear pain, an earache, ear drainage, ear ringing or buzzing, dizziness or hearing loss. In severe cases, vertigo and facial paralysis can occur.

A ruptured eardrum can lead to discomfort, and even though the study showed that most cases healed on their own within two months, surgery can in some cases be required.

Alternative ways to clean your ears

As for alternative ways to clean your ears, study co-author Dr. Michael Seidman, director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, recommends these methods:

  • Mix equal amounts of cool peroxide and hot tap water. Allow the mixture to reach body temperature and then gently irrigate the ear. No more than twice a month.
  • Mix one part plain vinegar and one part water and use four or five drops once a week.
  • Try an over-the-counter ear wax removal product and follow the directions carefully.
  • Make an appointment with a doctor to have ear wax removed.

The study

The study was carried out by researchers from Henry Ford Hospital. In the study, the researchers examined the medical records of 1,540 patients who suffered from ruptured eardrums between 2001 and 2010.

Kilde: www.emaxhealth.com & http://health.usnews.com

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