A new study by the Nationwide Children's Hospital revealed that about 12,500 children every year were treated in U.S. hospitals due to cotton swab-related injuries in the ear.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that about 34 children under the age of 18 is being sent to hospitals due to cotton swabs. Most of these incidents occurred as a result of using cotton swabs to clean their ears.
"The ears canals are usually self-cleaning," said Kris Jatana, MD., a researcher from Nationwide Children's Hospital's Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology and senior author of the study, in a press release. "Using cotton tip applicators to clean the ear canal not only pushes wax closer to the ear drum, but there is a significant risk of causing minor to severe injury to the ear."
For the study, the researchers analyzed the data obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Over a 21-year period, the researchers observed that about 263,000 children below 18 were treated in the hospital due to cotton swab-related ear injuries.
Foreign body sensation is the most common reported injury, experienced by 30 percent of the children. Next are perforated ear drum and soft tissue injury with 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
Among children aged between 8 and 17 years, foreign body sensation in s the most common diagnosis, while perforated ear drum is the most common diagnosis among children below 8 years of age.
About 73 percent of the injuries occurred as a directly result of using cotton swabs to clean the children's ear. On the other hand, 10 percent of the injured children reported playing with the cotton swab, while 9 percent were reported falling with cotton swabs in their ear.
Out of the reported injuries, 77 percent occurred when the children were suign the cotton swabs by themselves. About 16 percent happened when their parent were the ones using the cotton swabs and 6 percent when it was their siblings.
Nearly all of the cotton swab-related injuries treated in hospitals emergency department were treated and released. Serious damage to ear drums, inner ear or hearing bones could lead to dizziness, balance problems and irreversible hearing loss.
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