does self-ear-cleaning increase the risk of ear disease?

Research Article
*Olaosun, Adedayo O., MBChB, DLO, MSc, MPH, FWACS
Self-ear-cleaning, Ear-related symptoms, ear disease, sharp objects, youths, Nigeria.

Background Self-ear-cleaning is discouraged because it is thought to be associated with certain ear diseases but evidence to support this recommendation is sparse and not conclusive .

Objective To investigate the association of self-ear-cleaning with ear-related symptoms among young people in Osun state, Nigeria.

Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a randomly selected sample of Nigerian youth in a youth camp in Osun State, Nigeria. Outcome variable was the presence or absence of ear-related symptoms. Independent variables were presence or absence of self-ear-cleaning, and ear cleaning habits. Univariate and bivariate analysis was subsequently done with SPSS 15.

Results There was no significant association between the self-ear-cleaning and presence of any ear-related symptom (χ2= 0.135, p=0.713) or between self-earcleaning and a history of any ear-related symptom (χ2=0.328, p=0.567). There was however a significant negative association between self-ear-cleaning and the presence of earache (χ2=6.352, p=0.020) and a significant positive association between the presence of ear-related symptoms and the use of pointed objects for self-ear-cleaning (χ2-12.221, p=0.006).

Conclusion Self ear cleaning by itself does not appear to be associated with ear disease. This suggests that other factors associated with self ear cleaning may be responsible for the increased risk of ear disease that has been observed. This study identifies the use of sharp objects for self ear cleaning as one such factor. There is a need for more studies to identify more associated risk factors and there should be education away from self-ear-cleaning especially with sharp objects.