Cotton Swabs Send 3 Dozen Children to the ER Each Day

Doctors say you should never clean your ears with cotton swabs, but people reach for them anyway to scoop out the wax. According to the authors of a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, using cotton swabs to clean your ears can be dangerous, especially for children. In fact, use of these cotton swabs sends approximately 3 dozen children to the ER every day. [1]

Approximately 12,500 children under the age of 18 are treated in U.S. emergency departments for ear injuries each year, which amounts to about 34 visits per day.

Lead author Dr. Kris Jatana, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the Ohio State University, says:

“This is not like brushing your teeth every day. Children and adults do not need to clean out the ear canal of wax as part of a routine hygiene practice.”

For the study, Jatana and her colleagues looked at hospital visits between 1990 and 2010 and found that an estimated 260,000 children wound up in the emergency room with ear injuries.

The most common injuries included tears in the tissue that separates the ear canal from the middle ear, known as the tympanic membrane, a.k.a the eardrum. The majority of the injuries were the result of children using cotton swabs to clean their ears.

Source: The Independent

The younger the child, the more prone they were to ear injuries. Two-thirds of the young patients were younger than 8, and 40% were age 3 or younger. [2]

Cotton swabs can slice the ear canals, perforate our eardrums, and dislocate our hearing bones. This can lead to injuries as minor as dizziness and ringing, to more significant problems like hearing loss. [1]

Should Anyone Really Use Q-Tips to Clean Their Ears?

As cleaning goes, our ears don’t really need our help. They’re self-cleaning, and there’s no reason to go digging around in them.

Jatana says:

“The two biggest misconceptions I hear as an otolaryngologist are that the ear canals need to be cleaned in the home setting, and that cotton tip applicators should be used to clean them; both of those are incorrect.” [2]

She adds:

“It’s concerning that while these products have been around for almost 100 years and many of the manufacturers put warning labels on the products stating to not use them in the ear canal, we are still seeing a significant number of injuries in children using them for the purpose of cleaning their ear canal.” [3]

Source: The Washington Post

Ear wax actually has protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties, and its presence is perfectly normal. If you find wax on the outside of your ear, simply wipe it away with a wet cloth.

If you absolutely can’t resist cleaning out your ears, you should opt for drops, or at least reduce how often and how deep you go with those cotton tools.


[1] CNN

[2] Newser

[3] Live Science

The Independent

The Washington Post

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Caffeine Kills Teen Boy? A Cautionary Tale About Teens and Energy Drinks

A 16-year-old South Carolina boy consumed a large Diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald’s, and an energy drink within the course of 2 hours, and it evidently cost him his life. [1]

Davis Allen Cripe’s caffeine splurge likely caused deadly a heart arrhythmia, according to Richland County coroner Gary Watts.

“It was too much caffeine at the time of his death that it caused his arrhythmia.”

The Mayo Clinic explains heart arrhythmias this way:

“Heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.

Heart arrhythmias (uh-RITH-me-uhs) may feel like a fluttering or racing heart and may be harmless. However, some heart arrhythmias may cause bothersome — sometimes even life-threatening — signs and symptoms.”

It was around 12:30 p.m. on April 26 when Davis purchased the latte at McDonald’s. The Diet Mountain Dew was consumed “a little time after that.” Then, the young man consumed the energy drink, which officials declined to identify. [2]

Read: Buyer Beware – The Negative Effects of Energy Drinks

EMT’s were called at 2:28 p.m., when Davis collapsed. He was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m., at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital.

In April 2017, a study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association linking energy drinks to heart problems. Caffeine isn’t the only potentially hazardous ingredient in energy drinks, however; the beverages contain numerous ingredients which, on their own, may not be hazardous, but create a potent cocktail when mixed with caffeine.

In the study, participants who drank a regular caffeinated beverage showed no signs of abnormal heart rhythms. But after they consumed an energy drink, some of the individuals’ ECGs showed a change called QTc prolongation that is sometimes associated with life-threatening irregularities.

Said Watts:

“These drinks can be very dangerous. I’m telling my friends and family don’t drink them.” [1]

Source: Daily Health Post

In the case of Davis Allen Cripe, though, it appears that caffeine was the main culprit. The official cause of death was a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia.” Still, Watt stopped short of calling the boy’s death a caffeine overdose. [2]

The coroner said Davis was a healthy teenager, with no family history of a medical problem the caffeine would have exacerbated. The teen’s friends said he was staunchly against drug and alcohol use.

Watts explained:

“Davis, like so many other kids and so many other people out there today, was doing something (he) thought was totally harmless, and that was ingesting lots of caffeine. We lost Davis from a totally legal substance.”

Dr. Amy Durso, deputy chief medical examiner for Richland County, said:

“A cup of coffee, a can of soda isn’t going to cause this thing. It’s the amount and also the time frame in which these caffeinated beverages are consumed that can put you at risk.”

Plus, caffeine and energy drinks affect people differently. Your buddy might be able to knock back 2 energy drinks and a cup of coffee in the morning with no ill effects, but you shouldn’t assume it’s safe for you, Watts said.

“You can have five people line up right here and all of them do the exact same thing that happened with him that day – drink more – and it may not have any kind of effect on them at all.”

Sean Cripe said of his son’s death:

“Like all parents, we worry about our kids as they grow up. We worry about their safety, their health, especially once they start driving. But it wasn’t a car crash that took his life. Instead, it was an energy drink.” [3]

He added:

“Parents, please talk to your kids about these energy drinks. And teenagers and students: please stop buying them.” [2]

Source: Miami Herald


[1] NBC News

[2] Miami Herald

[3] CNN

Miami Herald

Daily Health Post

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