In the habit of using earbuds? Ditch them right away because you can go deaf

If it’s natural for you to use earbuds to clean your ears, stop right away. You could injure your ear, or in extreme situations, lose your capability to hear!
ear wax
Is there a need to clean your ears? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 26 Sep 2021, 12:00 pm IST
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How often has it happened that you’ve taken a nice, long shower, pat yourself dry, and reached out for earbuds to clean the ear wax? Happens all the time, we say! It’s time to let these earbuds stay inside the drawer, because using them could even impair your hearing. No, we aren’t kidding!

Before we tell you more about this, let’s first understand what earwax is.

What is earwax?

The skin of the ear canal produces oil, which then accumulates with debris, and forms wax. The texture of the ear wax may vary from person to person. For some, earwax feels more sticky; for others, it may be dry. The formation of earwax is a normal process, and everyone has it!

What is the purpose of earwax?

There’s no denying that earwax looks extremely gross, but it’s good for you. It provides a layer of protection between the ear canal and the bone below. Plus, it stops dust, bacteria, and germs from entering your ears, as per the US National Library of Medicine.

“Earwax is naturally produced in the external ear canal. It helps in blocking harmful substances like residue or dirt from entering the ear trench. Likewise, it prevents the development of microorganisms on the ear trench skin and helps to provide moisture to the ear canal,” Dr Harihar Murthy, ENT Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore, shared with Health Shots.

After a certain amount of wax builds up in the ear, it makes its way out on its own. We generally cut our nails or hair after they grow, but in this case, the earwax gets eliminated on its own, as per Harvard Health Publishing. Yes, in case there’s unusual buildup, you could always consult a doctor. 

Should you remove the earwax?

It’s almost tempting to use an earbud to get rid of the earwax. “Sticking in and rotating the earbud inside the fissure of the ear gives a satisfying feeling but it is equally harmful for the ears,” said Dr Murthy. 

are earbuds bad for my ears?
Using earbuds might be harmful. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In fact, using an earbud might just worsen the situation. That’s because a large portion of the wax will become compacted and get pushed further into the ear when one uses an earbud. 

“Although one might feel cleaner after using the earbud, on the other hand, it can trigger a higher creation of ear wax inside the ear,” he explained.

Stop using earbuds now!

Besides the undeniable harm brought about by inserting the earbud, the use of earbuds, even when done delicately, can cause damage to our ears. 

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“The skin within the ear is incredibly delicate, so twisting, turning, or bending using the earbud can cause inconvenience and trouble. Sometimes, the cotton tip of the earbud gets stuck in the ear. This can prompt sensations of uneasiness, pain, or discomfort. In some cases, it can lead to hearing loss,” said Dr Murthy. 

are earbuds bad for my ears?,
Stop using earbuds! Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Moreover, the skin coating of the ear canal is exceptionally thin and can be harmed easily. Earbuds can cut the ear canal and can cause sores. Despite being cautious while putting the earbud in the ear, it can cause damage to the ears.

How to safely remove earwax at home
  • Using mineral or baby oil will soften the earwax. It will melt the wax so that it comes out on its own. 
  • Over-the-counter ear drops can also help soften the earwax. 
  • Place diluted hydrogen peroxide in your ear to remove the earwax safely.
The bottom line

“An ENT specialist can appropriately clean the ears utilising a wide range of medical procedures and instruments. This can incorporate a suction tool, an earwax spoon, forceps, or the utilisation of ear irrigation,” concludes Dr Murthy. 

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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