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Why Should Earbuds Be Avoided To Clean The Ears?

Using ear buds or swabs for cleaning the ears is a general practice for many people; however, very few people know that it could not only be injurious to the ear but can also interfere with the internal cleaning mechanism of the ear. Most ENT specialists are of the opinion that cleaning the ears through ear buds or swabs is a common practice in the developing countries due to the lack of awareness about the ill effects of this habit [1].

Using an external object like an ear bud to clean the ear canal from all the accumulated earwax is thought to be good for hygiene. The thought process behind it is that excess of cerumen in the ear impacts hearing and is the cause for many ear infections and hence should be removed [1].

However, people do not know that the ear has a cleaning mechanism of itself and this is done by nothing else but cerumen. The cerumen is the natural cleanser of the ears. The cerumen also functions as a lubricant and protector of the external auditory canal. Thus cleaning cerumen is quite unnecessary and can cause more harm than good. This is what has been discussed in more detail below in the article [1].

Why Should Earbuds be Avoided to Clean The Ears?

Why Should Earbuds be Avoided to Clean The Ears?

ENT specialists suggest that cleaning the ear canal is something that is not required. This is because cleaning the ear canal excessively makes the lining of the ear canal and increases humidity within the area. This ultimately results in infection and irritation of the area around the ear canal causing impaired functioning of the ears [1].

The ear has its natural cleaning mechanism in which the fats and oils present in the ear trap any debris, dust, or particles and send them out of the body through earwax which comes out of the ear on its own without anyone even noticing it. Additionally, earwax should not be construed as dirt. In fact it is something that is necessary for the ears to be protected from any invading particles from outside [1].

The American Hearing Research Association opines that ear wax should not be eliminated as it prevents the ears from getting blocked. Thus it is best to avoid ear buds [2].

According to “The Telegraph” ear wax has antibacterial properties and removing ear wax using ear buds makes the ear prone to infections and invasion of dust particles inside the ear which can impair overall hearing capabilities of an individual [2].

Removing earwax also affects the underlying skin of the ear which is extremely sensitive and makes it vulnerable to infection. Thus it is best to avoid removing earwax through ear buds [2].

In cases where there is excessive earwax accumulation then it is best to consult an ENT specialist for removal instead of taking an ear bud and doing it yourself which can be unsafe for the ears [2].

Studies estimate that every year there are thousands of people who go to the hospital for treatment for earbud related ear infections and injuries. This provides concrete proof that earbuds can do more harm than good for the ears and should be avoided [2].

In conclusion, cleaning with earbuds is a habit that many youngsters follow. They believe that cerumen is more of a nuisance than anything else. However, studies and opinions of ENT specialists suggest exactly the opposite [2].

Earwax is a substance produced by the ear for lubrication and protection of the ears. It also traps in dust particles and other debris from outside to enter the ear preventing any infection to creep in. It is therefore recommended by ENT specialists and various researchers to avoid ear buds to clean the ear [2].


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 29, 2021

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