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The things we put in our ears may or may not hurt us

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Dr. George Alexiades, of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, puts a picking device through an otoscope to loosen a wax plug before grabbing it with an "alligator," a kind of scissor clip. (John Wendle/Columbia News Servic)

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Dr. George Alexiades, of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, explains the workings of the inner ear. (John Wendle/Columbia News Servic)

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Dr. George Alexiades, of the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, examines a patient through an otoscope. (John Wendle/Columbia News Servic)

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From crack cocaine to hearing aid batteries, humans stick plenty of foreign objects into their ears. But, surprisingly, medical complications are more likely to be caused by the innocent-seeming cotton swab.


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