April 17, 2024

BENGALURU EXPRESS

Truth Triumphs

Is Daily Ear Cleaning Wise? Insights From Dr. Sunitha Madhavan

Bengaluru, Feb. 19: For many, ear cleaning is a daily activity. In fact, there are many who follow unsafe practices at home to clear their ears without realizing that they are not merely cleaning their ears but actually damaging them. Hence, Dr. Sunitha Madhavan (Senior Consultant – ENT Specialist) at Kinder Hospital has debunked various myths related to ear cleaning and outlined the correct process. Ear cleaning is a habitual practice for many, often undertaken without full awareness of its potential dangers. Unsafe methods, such as using cotton buds or self irrigating the ears with water, can lead to discomfort, blockages, and even injury.

The Self-Cleansing Mechanism of the Ear Canal
The ear canal possesses a natural self-cleansing mechanism whereby wax and skin debris migrate outward, eliminating the need for daily cleaning. However, if dirt or debris accumulates near the ear canal opening, a soft cloth can be used for gentle cleaning. It’s crucial to avoid inserting objects deep into the ear canal to prevent injury, particularly for individuals with structural abnormalities, narrow ear canals, or a history of ear surgery.

Complications of Daily Ear Cleaning
The habitual practice of daily ear cleaning, particularly through excessive washing, can disrupt the ear canal’s normal protective mechanisms. This disruption may lead to a range of complications, including alterations in the ear canal’s pH levels and reduced lubrication from the secretory glands, rendering it more susceptible to infections. Moisture resulting from water entry can foster fungal infections, causing itching and discharge, while the use of buds or pins for cleaning can introduce secondary bacterial infections. Additionally, ear canal dryness and allergies may exacerbate itching sensations. Although ear wax typically serves as a protective barrier against injuries, exposure to stagnant or contaminated water, particularly during activities like swimming, can increase the risk of infection, resulting in pain and discharge.

Dos:

Use a cotton smeared with Vaseline outside the ear canal while washing your hair: This acts as a protective plug to prevent water from entering the ear canal.

Address ear itching due to dryness or allergy: Instead of self-medicating with over-the-counter drugs, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Seek medical attention for ear block after a cold: Ear blockage might indicate fluid buildup in the middle ear, requiring evaluation by an ENT specialist.

Clean debris or dirt outside the ear canal with a soft cloth: Gently wipe away any visible dirt or debris to maintain ear hygiene without risking injury.

Don’ts:

Make ear cleaning a daily ritual: Avoid using buds, pins, fingers, feathers, or other materials for scratching or cleaning the ear. Overcleaning can lead to irritation and injury.

Self-medicate for ear symptoms: Refrain from using over-the-counter medications without consulting a healthcare professional, especially if experiencing pain, blockage, itching, discharge, or bleeding in the ear.

Delay seeking medical attention for ear issues: Diabetic patients should take extra caution and seek immediate medical attention for any ear symptoms to prevent complications.

Participate in water activities with a history of ear pain or discharge: Avoid swimming or other water-related activities if there is a history of ear pain or discharge to prevent further complications.

By adhering to these dos and don’ts, individuals can maintain ear health and prevent potential complications.

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