An Enugu-based Otolaryngologist who specializes on vital organs such as ear, nose and throat, Dr Chijioke Anekpo, has advised against the constant cleaning of the ear.
Dr. Anekpo in an interview with Premium Times said the ear cleanses itself hence it is needless to do so but noted that the only part of the ear that should be cleaned is the outer part of it.
Here’s the text of the full interview:
Q: Can the use of earpiece and headset cause any ear problem?
Chijioke: Yes. It depends on the type of music and the volume that is emanating from the earpiece.
Secondly, if the earpiece is dirty and not well cleaned, it can introduce infection into the ear. Generally, depending on the volume and intensity of the sound, it can damage the eardrum.
So, continuous use of the headset or earpiece for a long time is not advisable, but once in a while, it can be used for just a few hours.
Q: What about having soap particles or antiseptics enter the ear during baths? Does it have any effect?
Chijioke: It doesn’t have any effect. Water enters the ears always and goes out, including the ones containing antiseptic. There is no effect because it does not stay there for long – once you clean, the whole thing goes off.
Q: How about cleaning the ear with a cotton bud? Does it pose any risk?
Chijioke: You don’t clean your ears at all. Naturally, ears are self-cleansing, but most people don’t know that. You don’t clean the ear from birth to the day you die. You can only clean the outer surface. But inside the ear, you are not supposed to clean. So, use of a cotton bud is needless.
There is a risk in attempting to clean the ear by yourself. The cotton wool may detach and enter your ear. By the time you are trying to remove it, you may destroy your ear.
So, a cotton bud has no value to the ear and whoever buys it is wasting his or her time, and resources, as well as exposing himself to possible damage to the ear.
Q: Does drinking of cold water affect the throat in any way?
Chijioke: Consumption of cold water is not healthy, to start with. It affects the throat if you are allergic to it but if you don’t react to cold water it, there’s no risk.
Generally, it doesn’t pose any problem, except for people that are allergic to it. They can get coughs and other reactions.
Q: How about warm water, any side effects?
Chijioke: You can take warm, but not when it’s extremely warm water because it could burn your throat. It is better to take it when it’s at room temperature, not hot.
Q: Shaving of hairs in the nostrils, does it pose any health problem?
Chijioke: That hair is protective. If you’re in a dusty area, it comes in handy. It helps to trap some particles of dust, preventing them from entering the respiratory system through the nose. So, shaving it is not advisable but you can trim it to an extent so it doesn’t cause nuisance.
Q: How about nose-picking?
Chijioke: It can elicit bleeding. So, it’s not advisable to pick the nose. When you’re putting your hands there to scrape it, you will see some little blood vessels there that could induce bleeding. In medical terms, it is called epistaxis. So, you don’t need to pick your nose.
Q: Does the prolonged use of face masks have any effect?
Chijioke: It depends on the type of problem one has. Someone who is asthmatic is not advised to have it on for long.
The person may even die. It can reduce the rate at which such a person breathes. It can elicit some reaction, depending on the type of facemask.
But ordinarily, when you put a facemask on for a long time and you are healthy, there is no problem. It depends on the state of a person’s health. Like someone who is asthmatic or has cardiac problems, putting on a facemask for a long time is not advisable.
Q: Does the smoke from vehicles and firewood pose any risk to the respiratory organs?
Chijioke: Yes. It can affect one’s heart and lungs, depending on the quantity of smoke and how many times one is exposed to it. It’s not like if you get exposed to it once, it may not be harmful.
But continuous exposure to smoke – whether from firewood or vehicles – is very risky.
Generally, smoke from vehicles can kill because it is carbon monoxide and it’s dangerous to one’s blood and respiratory system.