All of us are blessed with the five sense organs – eyes, nose, skin, tongue, and ears. In all these sense organs, the ears are the most neglected. It is also probably abused beyond its tolerance point many times. Your ears provide the gift of hearing.
Your hearing is integral to comfortable daily living, and it is the ability to listen to music that makes this gift divine. Music is often used as a stress buster, a kind of therapy to elevate the mood. Also, with the advent of mobile devices, you listen to music on the go. While this makes long commutes bearable, you tend to use headphones for a longer duration so that others are not disturbed.
This is just one of the common mistakes that you make concerning your ears. What is wrong in using headphones? In what way is cleaning your ears harmful? Let’s look into the simple things you take for granted that can actually harm your ears.
1. Killing Your Ears Softly With Earphones
It is a common sight nowadays to find people walking around or traveling with their earphones plugged into their mobile devices. Most often than not, especially the youngsters would be listening to music. The chances are high that they would have turned up the volume to the highest to enjoy their favorite song and drone out ambient noise. This could prove harmful to the ears in the long run. There are consequences to listening to loud music very often.1
Instances of hearing loss due to the constant use of earphones with loud volumes are common. This is categorized as noise-induced hearing loss. 10 million Americans are estimated to have noise-induced hearing loss. A study concludes that permanent sensorineural hearing loss may result with repeated exposure. You need to be mindful of how long and how loud the music plays directly into your ears.2
2. Removing Ear Wax
Many of us are not aware that ear wax is useful and good for the ears. Scientific studies conducted on ear wax have concluded that ear wax contains ten antimicrobial peptides. These peptides in the ear wax prevent bacteria and fungi from causing infections in the external auditory canal. Hence, unless ear wax interferes with your hearing, just let it be.3
The other aspect of ear wax removal is the damage that it can cause, albeit unintentionally. Mostly when attempting to clean your ears, cotton-tipped swabs are used. There is evidence to suggest that cotton-tipped swab use may be associated with cerumen accumulation. Ear wax is known as cerumen in medical terms. Cerumen impaction refers to the buildup of layers of ear wax within the ear canal to the point of blocking the canal and putting pressure on the eardrum.
You may be surprised to know that cerumen impaction is often caused by misguided attempts to remove earwax. Instead of removing the wax you may just be pushing it further in and jamming the canal. Hence, the next time you reach out for that cotton swab, be careful and think whether it is really needed.4
3. Piercing Your Ears
Ear piercing is common among many cultures across the world. It may be fashionable and add points to your style quotient, make sure they are done by a professional. Ear piercing is associated with an increase in severe infections with pseudomonas and staphylococcus bacteria.
These are wound infections that may cause a lot of trouble and also necessitate treatment. It is best to leave piercing to a professional. Best to stay away from small stores and outlets with unhygienic tools.5
All the oversized ear jokes that people make may not be so funny if you don’t take care of your ears properly. They are important for not just hearing but as a vital sensory organ.
|↑1||Vogel, Ineke, Johannes Brug, Esther J. Hosli, Catharina PB Van Der Ploeg, and Hein Raat. “MP3 players and hearing loss: adolescents’ perceptions of loud music and hearing conservation.” The Journal of Pediatrics 152, no. 3 (2008): 400-404.|
|↑2||Lee, Phillip C., Craig W. Senders, Bruce J. Gantz, and Steven R. Otto. “Transient sensorineural hearing loss after overuse of portable headphone cassette radios.” Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 93, no. 5 (1985): 622-625.|
|↑3||Schwaab, M., A. Gurr, A. Neumann, S. Dazert, and A. Minovi. “Human antimicrobial proteins in ear wax.” European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases 30, no. 8 (2011): 997-1004.|
|↑4||Macknin, Michael L., Haitham Talo, and Sharon VanderBrug Medendorp. “Effect of cotton-tipped swab use on earwax occlusion.” Clinical Pediatrics 33, no. 1 (1994): 14-18.|
|↑5||Staley, Ronna, James J. Fitzgibbon, Catherine Anderson, and MSN LSM. “Auricular infections caused by high ear piercing in adolescents.” Pediatrics 99, no. 4 (1997): 610-611.|