5 Unhealthy Things You’re Probably Doing to Your Ears

5 Unhealthy Things You're Probably Doing to Your Ears
5 Unhealthy Things You're Probably Doing to Your Ears

Aural health is incredibly important, yet it’s also something that a lot of people frequently neglect. From carelessly entering noisy environments to improper cleaning practices, people do a lot of unhealthy stuff to their ears. Here, in my experience, are the most common – avoid these if you want to maintain your hearing health.

Using Cotton Swabs to Clean Out Earwax

Cotton swabs might look like they’re well-suited to go into your ears. They’ve got the right shape, and they appear to be pretty good at cleaning out earwax. Unfortunately, this isn’t what they’re meant to do – and moreover, using them for this purpose can actually cause serious damage to your ears.

See, earwax is a normal part of your ear canal. It’s part of what allows your ears to function properly. Cleaning it out too aggressively can not only cause irritation and itching but may actually cause your earwax to become impacted, causing issues with your hearing and balance. You may even end up perforating your eardrum.

If you have an issue with earwax buildup, you might use hydrogen peroxide in an eyedropper or a simple water rinse – alternatively, consider visiting a doctor.

Ear Candling

Ear candling is often advertised as an effective treatment for a wide range of ailments, including earwax building, swimmer’s ear, earaches, and sinus infections and dizziness. It involves inserting a thin, fabric-filled tube of paraffin wax, soy wax, or beeswax filled with into your ear, then lighting it on fire. If that sounds dangerous to you, that’s because it is.


As noted by the American Academy of Audiology, there is no scientific evidence that ear candling works. Opposed by both the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Otolaryngology, it can cause perforations, burns, and ear canal blockages that require surgery to address. If someone tries to claim ear candling is anything other than dangerous pseudoscience, walk away – they’re wrong.

Jacking up the Volume

The human ear is not made for sounds above 75 deciBels (dB). Anything higher than that can cause permanent hearing damage. Unfortunately, headphones, particularly earbuds, are often capable of outputting sound well in excess of that, often hitting 100 dB or more at max volume.

Having that level of noise pumped directly into your ears for an extended period is not healthy. If you’re going to listen to music, take care to keep the volume at a reasonable level. Moreover, it’s likely better to invest in over the ear headphones instead of earbuds so you aren’t pumping sound directly into your ear.

Getting an Improper Piercing

Piercing salons exist for a reason. They are sanitized environments, with well-tended equipment that’s meant to minimize the risk of infection in clients. What I’m saying is that much like getting a tattoo, piercing your ears isn’t something that you should do yourself.

Infections aside, you can end up causing severe nerve damage if you try to pierce your ears on your own. Just go to a piercing studio instead – trust me on this. And make sure, once you’ve gotten your piercing, that you properly care for it.

Failing to Wear Hearing Protection

A lot of people don’t realize just how damaging things like concerts, sporting events, and even nightclubs can be to their hearing. Repeated and unprotected exposure to the noise in these environments can cause a great deal of harm to your hearing, and even result in permanent hearing loss. It would be wise to invest in some specialized earplugs – you can even purchase electronic ones if you’re willing to put down the money.

Protect Your Ears

Hearing loss can be downright devastating – but it’s often entirely preventable. Take the proper steps to care for your ears. You’ve only got one pair, after all.


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