Earbuds are abundant in most spaces anymore. From walking down the street to the coffee shop to the airport, everyone seems to have a pair and they're putting them to use. They’re lightweight, versatile and highly portable. But few realize that they also could be a source of infection. Here’s what all users should know.
Earbuds often look harmless enough. We might not even realize it when they begin to get dirty, but if we don’t clean them regularly and properly we could be putting our ears at increased risk of numerous complications. Healthline reports that fungal and yeast infections can become potential problems when we use dirty earbuds, and we run the risk of effects from excess wax buildup as well.
Like all other parts of the body, the outer ears can be natural hosts to numerous microbes. Most common to the area are the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis and S. aureus, but several other bacteria, as well as yeasts and molds, can also be present. Males appear to be particularly vulnerable to fungal growth in the ears, but no one is immune. The warm, moist environment we create when we plug our ear canals can create tiny Petri dishes, and over time any excessive microbial growth can lead to infection.
We can reduce infection potential by keeping earbuds clean and allowing our ears to air out thoroughly between uses. This practice is especially important if we’ve been active and sweating.
To disinfect earbuds, go over surfaces with alcohol wipes. If there are removable silicone pieces, take them off, wipe them down with a cotton swab and be careful to clear away any visible wax or debris. Clean earbuds about once a week, more often if they look like they need it or you use them frequently, and store them in a clean, dry spot.
Earbuds are one of the countless modern staples most of us use regularly but overlook in terms of the ways they can cause harm. Maintenance is incredibly important. Keep them clean to reduce infection risks. The health of your ears could depend on it.
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