‘Cotton bud misuse can cause deafness’


The long-time use of cotton buds can cause permanent deafness, health experts warned. These buds consist of one or two small wads of cotton wrapped around one or two ends of a short rod made of wood, rolled paper or plastic. According to a new research conducted by YouGov, in the United Kingdom (UK) , 62 per cent of British people use cotton buds to clean their ears. The primary reason (96%) given for using cotton buds was to remove earwax.

The study indicates that it is evident that there is a public perception that the ears require regular cleaning. However in Bangladesh there is no specific study on cotton and its harmful impact on the ear. That Brit study also found that men are more likely than women to exclusively use cotton buds for ear wax removal, with 31 percent of men admitting to doing so, in comparison to 14 percent of women. Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist Doctor Shahrin Islam said, “Using cotton swabs, can push the wax deeper into your ear canal. You might also seriously damage sensitive ear canal skin or your eardrum. Earwax buildup is not very common.”

Between 1990 and 2010, more than a quarter of a million children in the US were admitted to hospital emergency rooms on account of injuries sustained from cotton buds. It is estimated that more than 13,000 children in the US are hospitalized due to use of cotton buds on an annual basis.

“It can cause punctured ear drums and hearing loss. In plentiful cases, buds can damage sensitive structures behind the ear canal and cause complete deafness” said, ENT Specialist Dr Mehedi Hasan. It is part of the ‘itch-scratch cycle’, which means the more you use them, the more your ears itch, and then because your ears itch more, you want to use them more. In the long run prolonged vertigo with nausea and vomiting, loss of taste function, and even facial paralysis might occur, he added.

Although he suggested that the use of cotton buds repeatedly to clean the ears can increase the risk of ear infections. After, bathing with a towel, remove as much of the ear wax as you can. Do not forcefully scratch the inside of the ear. He further said that, never scratch your ear with a safety pin or a stick. If the ear feels heavy or it is difficult to hear, then seek doctor consultation.

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation (AHRF), adding two to three drops of olive oil into your ear can help soften ear wax so that it can work its way out. This procedure likely only needs to be performed once a week, but it won't harm your ears to do it daily.