Dangers to Your Eardrum
You have probably heard from your Houston audiologist about the dangers of ear candling to remove unwanted wax, but what about the dangers of those soft, fluffy cotton swabs? Turns out, using a cotton swab to clean your ears is the leading cause of a perforated eardrum, which can lead to hearing loss.
Your eardrum is the thin membrane that separates your outer ear from your middle ear. The eardrum plays an important role in the hearing process, converting the sound waves that enter the ear into vibrations. In addition to aiding in the hearing process, your eardrum prevents water, bacteria and debris from entering your middle ear, which can lead to infections.
Cotton Swab Danger to Your Eardrum
So how does this so-called “dangerous” cotton swab pose any risk to your eardrum? Just placing a swab in your ear can create enough pressure to rupture your eardrum. Yes, even if you place it in your ear very carefully. A ruptured eardrum can cause a sharp pain in the ear, drainage from the ear (either clear or bloody), buzzing sounds and even hearing loss.
If you begin to experience these symptoms, you most likely tore a hole in your eardrum. You should visit your Houston audiologist as soon as possible. Once you arrive at the office, your audiologist will look inside your ear for any visible signs of damage with a lighted instrument called an otoscope. Next, your audiologist will perform a hearing test in order to determine if you are suffering from any hearing loss.
Wow. Who knew all that could be caused by a such an innocent little cotton swab? Your Houston audiologist knew, and that is why they tried to warn you on multiple occasions. OK, lesson learned. Now for some good news; most of these symptoms are temporary.
For most, their perforated eardrum will heal on its own and will not require additional treatment. Most Houston audiologists will prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection and recommend the use of over-the-counter medications to manage any pain. If your eardrum does not heal on its own or if the hole is too large, surgery if often needed. A simple outpatient procedure is all that is needed to repair the hole with a piece of your own tissue.
Now that you know the risks associated with using a cotton swab to clean out your ear, we hope you think twice about it next time. For most, a simple shower is all that is needed to wash out any debris or earwax that is trapped in the ear.