-- Randy Dotinga
WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new study has found a
direct association between using cotton swabs to clean the ears and
The good news is that almost all of the cases of ruptured
eardrums healed without surgery, the researchers pointed out.
"In the past, many otolaryngologists have wondered if surgery is really necessary to treat a ruptured eardrum. The results of this study show that 97 percent of cases healed on their own within two months, proving that most cases do not require surgery," Dr. Ilaaf Darrat, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) at Henry Ford Hospital and co-author of the study, said in a hospital news release.
That's no reason to get complacent about how you clean your
More than half of the people who visit ear, throat and nose
specialists confess to using swabs -- tiny sticks with cotton on
the ends -- to clean their ears, but the practice can damage the
ear if people push them in too far.
A ruptured eardrum is just one unpleasant potential outcome,
because that can lead to tinnitus, and in severe cases, to vertigo
and facial paralysis.
"If a patient is experiencing symptoms such as hearing loss, drainage, dizziness or abnormality in their facial movements, they should see a doctor immediately to assess the possible ear damage," Darrat said in the news release.
In the study, the researchers examined the medical records of
1,540 patients who suffered from ruptured eardrums between 2001 and
2010. They found that although most cases healed on their own, some
complications -- like facial nerve paralysis -- required
As for alternative ways to clean your ears, study co-author Dr.
Michael Seidman, director of the division of otologic and
neurotologic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, recommends these
The study findings were presented April 29 at the Combined
Otolaryngological Spring Meeting in Chicago. Because the study has
not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the findings
should be considered preliminary.
For more on ear wax blockage, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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