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18 October 2019, 13:40
New details have emerged of what happens inside your ear if you regularly use earphones.
Whether you listen to music on the bus, in the gym or in the comfort of your bedroom, most of us wear headphones at some point during the week.
But now an expert has revealed some disgusting new details about the effect your favourite ear phones could be having.
According to Lisa Hellwege, clinical director of Earworx, wearing them causes a buildup of dirt, sweat and even hair in your ear.
She told Yahoo News Australia: “Anything that obstructs that natural pathway of wax out of the ears can lead to wax buildup.
“As with earplugs and hearing aids, earphones sit in the part of the canal where wax is produced, and can actually stimulate the production of more wax when they are in use.”
Earwax helps to protect and moisturise the ear canal, but too much of a build up can also lead to infections.
Lisa explained: “Water trapped behind built-up wax, especially in humid environments, can lead to ear infections. Symptoms can include pain, odour, discharge and itching.”
This is a particular problem for people living in humid areas and those who frequently use headphones.
If painful symptoms arise, it’s advised to keep ears dry and see medical help.
While you might be attached to your earphones, there are some things you can do to protect your ears such as wearing out of ear alternatives, and making sure you clean your set regularly.
“Like cotton buds, earphones often pick up the wax in the outer third of the ear canal where it is produced, and can leave the ears dry and itchy,” Lisa said.
“Let the wax build back up and see if this improves things. Infections can also be reintroduced by soiled earphones - try cleaning them daily with an alcohol wipe which kills 99.9% of pathogens.”
There are many ways to clean your headphones - but it's best to start by removing any dirt.
Start by holding the earbuds upside down and gently dry brushing the wax out so any debris falls out.
You can then dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and then wipe the bud to remove anything remaining before wiping the earbud and surrounding area to disinfect it.