Every day about 34 children end up in the emergency room due to cotton swabs-related injuries. Around 73 percent of incidents involve ear cleaning, two-thirds of patients being younger than 8. Experts are advising parents to stop using Q-tips, the ear canal being perfectly capable of cleaning itself.
Researchers Looked at 20 Years’ Worth of Data
According to the latest paper published in the Journal of Pediatrics, cotton swabs were responsible for 2363,000 injuries from 1990 to 2010. This translates into about 34 children in need of medical attention per day.
“It’s difficult for people to gauge how deep they’re putting [the Q-tip], sometimes, it just takes a small movement to puncture the ear drum,” the lead author declared.
Dr. Kris Jatana, pediatric otorhinolaryngologist and lead author of the study was keen on mentioning that the need of thoroughly cleaning a child’s ear is a common misconception, the ear being capable of eliminating excess wax deposits. By attempting to clean the ear canal with cotton swabs, parents usually end up perforating their child’s eardrum.
Untreated Injuries Could Lead to Severe Complications
While treatment is relatively easy, children recovering completely from the trauma, untreated injuries can trigger severe complications such as dizziness, balance problems, hearing loss – temporary or permanent – and, in rare cases, facial nerve paralysis.
Cotton swabs are designed for cosmetic use, most manufacturers including extensive warnings on their products. However, numerous studies have found that 90 percent of Americans are convinced that they should clean their and their children’s ears regularly using Q-tips. Moreover, the power of example is as strong as ever, 77 percent of injuries being self-inflicted by children introducing cotton swabs in their ears in an attempt to mimic their parents.
Ear wax is meant to lubricate, protect, and clean the ear canal. While it is true that one in 20 American adults and one in 10 children suffer from excessive wax buildup, patients should never attempt to remove it using a cotton swab as they will only push the substance deeper into the ear canal. The best thing to do is to visit a doctor and use special designed products.
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