Cotton Swabs Can Rupture Ear Drums. Try These Safer Alternatives to Clean Your Inner Ear.

Careful with that cotton swab!  You could rupture an ear drum, according to a new study.Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital have found a direct association between cotton swab use and ruptured ear drums.

Providing some comfort to cotton swab users, however, the researchers also found that in 97 percent of cases the rupture heals on its own, and surgery is only necessary for the most severe cases.

More than half of patients seen in ear, nose and throat clinics admit to using cotton swabs to clean their ear, regardless of their primary complaint.

But doctors warn that if the cotton swab is pushed too far in the ear canal, it can cause serious damage, including a ruptured eardrum (TMP).  Severe TMP can cause facial paralysis and vertigo.

“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,” said Ilaaf Darrat, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Henry Ford Hospital and co-author of the study, in a press release.

Study co-author Michael Seidman, M.D., FACS, director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, recommends these methods to clean the ear instead:

-Take cool peroxide, hot tap water and mix equally. Be sure it is body temperature and gently irrigate the ear one or two times per month.

-Take plain vinegar and water and use four or five drops in the ear once a week.

-See a doctor, who can remove ear wax for you.

-Try an over-the-counter treatment such as Debrox.