This bathroom product sends 34 kids to the ER every day
If you’re using cotton swabs to clean you or your child’s ears – listen up.
Recent research out of Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that 263,000 children were treated in emergency departments for cotton swab ear injuries between 1990 and 2010, which equates to 34 injuries a day.
About 77 percent of the injuries occurred when children were using cotton swabs by themselves, leading to perforated ear drums and soft tissue damage. While most children were treated and released, permanent damage such as irreversible hearing loss and injury to hearing bones were reported.
“Many parents are worried about the presence of earwax in their child’s ears,” says Dr. Patricia Notario, pediatrician and medical director of Coordinated Care for Children with Medical Complexity at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. But Dr. Notario says earwax is there for a reason. “It helps protect the ears from having small foreign objects or particles of dust enter them. It is actually great to leave it where it is.”
Dr. Notario says that if you use cotton swabs to clean your child’s ears, they should only be utilized on the outside of the ear and never in the canal itself.
“While cotton swabs are shaped in such a way that they can fit into ear canals, they often can cause more harm than good,” she says.
If you are going to clean earwax that naturally comes out of the ears, Dr. Notario recommends using warm water in the shower or both to soften the wax and then drying that off with a clean towel.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.