10 January 2017

Dirty ears – healthy ears?

Scientists advised to give up ear sticks

Oleg Lischuk, N+1

The American Academy of Otolaryngology has released an updated clinical guide to ear hygiene.


In it, experts recommend not to use cotton swabs (tampers) and any other objects that penetrate into the external auditory canal.

Earwax is a normal secret of the human body, designed to protect, clean and lubricate the ear canal. It collects dirt, dust and dead cells, and also prevents the growth of pathogens. The renewal of the stratum corneum of the skin of the auditory canal and the movements of the lower jaw ensure the gradual removal of sulfur to the outside, where it is exfoliated or washed off. Approximately one in 10 children and one in 20 adults have excessive accumulation of earwax, leading to hearing impairment and the possible development of other symptoms. To prevent this, people often regularly use cotton swabs or other objects to clean the external auditory canal.

The authors of the updated guidelines, based on three clinical guidelines, five systematic reviews and six randomized controlled trials, concluded that this practice is unacceptable.

"Patients often think that they prevent the accumulation of earwax by cleaning their ears with cotton swabs, paper clips, ear candles and countless other unimaginable objects. The problem is that such attempts only worsen the situation, because they push sulfur deep into the ear canal. Anything that can penetrate into the ear can damage the skin of the passage and the eardrum," explained the head of the working group Seth Schwartz.

Based on the collected data, otolaryngologists gave the following basic recommendations for ear hygiene.

  • Don't get too carried away with ear washing. Excessive washing can irritate the ear canal, lead to infection and increase the risk of earwax accumulation.
  • Do not insert anything into the ear canal. Cotton swabs and other objects can injure the skin and eardrum, as well as cause displacement of the auditory bones, which will lead to hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness and other manifestations of ear injury.
  • Do not use ear candles. There is no evidence that they are able to remove excess earwax, but they can seriously damage the ear canal and the eardrum.
  • If your hearing has worsened, there is a feeling of stuffy ear or pain in it, seek medical help.
  • Ask your doctor how you can independently prevent excessive accumulation of earwax, if you are predisposed to it. Some preventive methods have contraindications, and a specialist should choose them.
  • Be sure to seek medical help if there is pain, bleeding or unusual discharge from the ear. These symptoms are not associated with the accumulation of sulfur and require a professional examination.

"Updated manual... it serves as a strict reminder for patients that the health of the ears begins with themselves, and that many things should not be done in order not to harm themselves. People tend to clean their ears because they consider earwax to be a manifestation of uncleanness. This incorrect information leads to unsafe hygiene practices," concluded Schwartz.

Tupfers, which are often positioned as "ear sticks", are not really intended for cleaning the ears – they serve to take swabs and treat wounds.

Previously, a large-scale population study conducted in New Zealand revealed another undesirable side of excessive hygiene. It turned out that children who bite their nails and suck their fingers are significantly less prone to developing allergies in later life than their peers who do not have similar habits. This confirms the hygienic hypothesis first expressed by the British epidemiologist David Strachan in 1989. According to this hypothesis, contact with dirt and microbes in early childhood reduces the risk of developing various conditions associated with excessive activity of the immune system.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  10.01.2017

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version