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For Kids With Earwax, Skip Cotton Swabs, Expert Urges

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

FRIDAY, March 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Cotton swabs might seem like handy tools for clearing wax from children's ears, but they just might do more harm than good.

In fact, each year roughly 12,540 injuries to children's ears stem from the use of cotton swabs, according to a study cited by Dr. Jay Shah, who specializes in conditions that affect children's ears, nose and throat. He's a pediatric otolaryngologist with Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, part of the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio.

The study analyzed more than two decades of data from U.S. emergency department and doctor visits that involved children's ear injuries related to cotton swab use.

Younger children are at higher risk for such injuries, the study found. Nearly 70 percent of the injuries were to children younger than 8 years old, and 40 percent were 3 years old or younger.

In most cases, the kids were trying to clean their own ears but instead caused damage, the study found. The damage included bleeding, pain, hearing loss and dizziness.

Cotton swabs can also cause earwax to become jammed or stuck in the ear, causing ringing in the ears, trouble hearing, itching and discomfort.

Having wax in your ears is normal and natural, according to Shah.

"Your body produces earwax as a way to clean the ear canal, as well as lubricate it and protect it from bacteria," he said in a hospital news release. "In general, ear canals do not need to be cleaned unless earwax starts building up near the outside of the ear. Even then, a damp cloth will usually do the trick."

If a cloth doesn't seem to be working, he said that other safe methods parents could try include earwax removal drops or baby oil.

"Please never use cotton swabs to clean the ears," he said. "Please leave it to a health professional to clean earwax if needed."

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has information on ear injuries.

SOURCE: University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, news release, Feb. 21, 2018

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=731584

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Ear
Wounds and Injuries
Ear Canal
Hearing
Dizziness
Affect
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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