Are Ear Buds Really Dangerous?

Jan 22, 2015 in Hearing Care

Are Ear Buds Really Dangerous?

Did you know that in the UK, each year some 7,000 people have to visit the hospital with injuries caused by ear buds? Yet 36% of adults, in a recent research, say that they use ear buds despite knowing the dangers. Regular use of ear buds can lead to skin irritation, infections and permanent hearing loss. Here’s what you should know before you stick an ear bud in your ear the next time.

Waxing Time

Ear buds are most commonly used to remove earwax, which is essentially a mixture of exfoliated skin and secretions. Earwax is actually beneficial as it causes foreign bodies to adhere to it and prevents them from entering the ear canal. It also has anti-bacterial properties. When you use an ear bud to clean out the wax, more often than not you’re pushing it further into the ear canal. If the bud is inserted too far into the ear, you run the risk of perforating your eardrum. This can lead to bleeding, pain and temporary hearing loss. If the bud damages the tiny bones inside your ear, called the ossicles, it can cause dizziness and permanent hearing loss.

Danger Zone

The ear canal has specialised cells that produce earwax, also known as cerumen. Wax accumulation differs from person to person and some people may see a large build-up in a short period of time. Most people use ear buds to clear out this wax. However, the bud can easily reach the eardrum, which is so delicate that it can rupture with the slightest pressure. A punctured eardrum causes intense pain and can also lead to temporary hearing loss. While it usually heals on its own, in extreme cases surgery might be required.

Keeping it Clean

In most cases the ear canal doesn’t need to be cleaned. While bathing or showering, enough water enters the ears to clean out any accumulated earwax. For the outer ear, a good cleaning in the shower is enough. If the wax build-up is heavy, a visit to the doctor is essential. Your doctor will syringe out the wax using a mixture or peroxide and water in a virtually painless manner. Steer clear of cleaning out your ear yourself; you might just end up damaging it more.

Protect your hearing

Apart from not using ear buds there are other ways in which you can protect your hearing. If you live or work in a noisy environment, invest in hearing protection devices – from simple earplugs to earmuffs and headphones, to more advanced custom hearing protection such as custom-fit earplugs. It’s also a good idea to get your hearing tested regularly, as hearing impairment can be a gradual process and not easily discernible.

At Leightons Hearing Care, we offer free hearing tests. Our qualified audiologists will assess your hearing and if necessary, recommend hearing aids based on your requirements and lifestyle. We have a wide range of top-notch digital hearing aids from all leading manufacturers. Find your nearest branch and make an appointment today. Call us on 0800 40 20 20 and our hearing care expert will guide you on everything related to your hearing.