Many of us love the comforting feel of a soft ear bud caressing the ear after a warm shower.

People use ear buds to ‘clean’ ear wax. But ear wax is really a protective secretion from the sebaceous and sweat glands in the ear which mixes with cells shed from skin, dust and hair. Wax kills certain bacteria, decreases the growth of fungus, moistens the ear, improves acoustics, and entraps dust and foreign material.

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The human ear is self-cleaning, having the wonderful mechanism to clean by itself. Wax dries up and usually migrates outwards with jaw movements while talking and chewing. We all have a specialized conveyer belt mechanism to clean it up, which continuously moves wax outwards.

So is the use of ear buds really necessary? While using  buds we are actually destroying the natural mechanism of cleaning and we are further pushing the wax deep inside rather than taking it out.

Did you know that the distance from your ear drum to the outside of the ear is only 2.4 cm? The usual ear bud measures approximately 8 cm. So if you accidently go deep, there is every chance of rupturing your ear drum, which is only 0.1 mm thick. Even the gentlest of pressure can rupture the eardrum and cause permanent deafness if not treated. There is also the possibility of the cotton of the ear bud getting stuck deep in the ear.

If u experience pain, hearing impairment or a blocked feeling associated with wax, it is time to consult an ENT doctor.

Every year, approximately 7000 cases of ear bud injury are reported to the hospital. So it’s time you decide whether to use ear buds again or to bin that box of ear buds for good.

Dr. Pradeep Divakaran
(ENT Specialist)
Bahrain Specialist Hospital Clinics, West Riffa