10 Things Your Ears Hate

Our ears are amazing organs. They allow us to experience the world in such a rich way, but often we are stumped when it comes to caring for them. Many of us make the mistake of subjecting them to things that our ears really hate. We thought we’d do your ears a favor and put together a list of the top 10 things that your ears hate, so you can avoid them if at-all possible.

1. Q-Tips

Despite popular thinking, Q-tips are not recommended for cleaning the inside of your ear. The risk of rupturing or damaging your eardrum is so great doctors recommend sticking nothing smaller than your elbow in your ear.

2. Ear Candles

Ear candles are unsafe, ineffective, and worst of all using them can lead to burns on your face and ears.  Your ears don’t want to be used like candleholders. 

3. Hot Oil

Some home remedies suggest using hot oil as a way of easing an earache, but this approach is also fraught with risk, including burns to the face and ear canal. If you have an earache you should consult your doctor. 

4. Foreign objects

The ear works best when it is unobstructed. Sticking anything in your ear (like a popcorn kernel) can disrupt the natural self-cleaning functions, irritate the ear canal, and more importantly, impair hearing. 

5. Loud Music

You’re parents were annoyingly right when they told you to turn down your loud music. Repeated exposure to sounds over 85 decibels (the sound level of an idling bulldozer) can lead to permanent hearing loss. In fact, many headphones are capable of reaching sound levels high enough (100 decibels) to cause permanent damage within 15 minutes a day.¹ 

6. Firecrackers

Firecrackers are apart of many people’s entertainment but they pose serious risk to enjoying this time safely. We wrote in an earlier post about the dangers of fireworks and want to remind you that fireworks can cause serious injury to your ears, including permanent hearing loss. Below is a picture of a man’s ruptured eardrum from a fireworks explosion. A large bottle rocket exploded near his face, rupturing both eardrums and caused hearing loss in both ears.

Left ear of patient with Tympanic Membrane perforation due to firework explosion near face. Captured by Dr. Kenneth Deem with the CellScope Oto.

Left ear of patient with eardrum perforation due to firework explosion near face. Captured by Dr. Kenneth Deem with the CellScope Oto.

When dealing with any fireworks, make sure you review the necessary safety precautions and protect those ears.

7. Keys

Itchy ears aren’t fun, but sticking sharp metal objects in your ear for relief is not a good idea. The sharp metal can easily puncture a hole in your eardrum.

8. Bobby Pins

Despite their slim profile and rounded end, bobby pins are another culprit that can easily tear the eardrum if you insert it into the ear too far. Remember, nothing smaller than your elbow goes in your ear. 

9. Constantly Removing Ear Wax

It turns out ear wax is actually an important component of a healthy ear. Ear wax (cerumen) is protective, antibacterial and provides lubricant for your ear. Additionally, ears are self-cleaning and attempts to remove ear wax with Q-tips (#1 hated thing) can result in impacted wax and cause hearing loss.

10. Undiagnosed Ear infections

When left untreated otitis media can lead to a ruptured eardrum, hearing loss, or infection in the mastoid bone behind the ear.

You should always contact your physician in the event of:

  • Persistent ear pain
  • Bleeding or drainage from the ear
  • Sudden onset hearing loss
  • Acute dizziness or vertigo
  • Redness and swelling in or behind the ear

Be kind to your ears and keep these top 10 things away from your ears. They’ll thank you later!

The CellScope Oto, our ear checker tool, allows anyone with an iPhone and Oto device to view the ear canal and eardrum from the comfort of home. CellScope is looking forward to launching a service to connect users of the Oto to a physician in their state to enable remote treatment of ear exams. For updates on the availability of the Oto for at-home otoscope use, please visit http://www.cellscope.com/subscribe.


Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only; none of the above information should be viewed as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources: 1. Dangerous Decibels. Noise Induced Hearing Loss. (Accessed June 2014)

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