A 31-year-old man in England almost ended up endangering his life because of the cotton swabs he used to clean his ears.
A cotton swab got stuck inside his ear canal, affecting his hearing and spreading infection to the lining of his brain, causing neurological symptoms including headaches, vomiting, seizures, and even problems remembering people’s names, reported Fox News.
The man wasn’t clear how or when it happened but the stuck cotton swab triggered a bacterial infection that spread to the bone at the base of his skull.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 12, 2019
Dr. Alexander Charlton, one of the ear, nose, and throat specialists involved in the man’s treatment at University Hospital Coventry in England, told Fox News that the infection at the base of his skull spread to the lining of the brain, causing neurological symptoms.
The man experienced pain and discharge from his left ear for about 10 days. At times his ear was in so much pain that he vomited and started experiencing problems remembering people’s names. Eventually, he had a seizure and collapsed. He was rushed to a hospital where doctors found a cotton swab in his ear.
A CT scan on his brain showed two pus-filled areas in the bone at the base of his skull, near the base of his left ear canal. Doctors inferred that the infection might have happened inside the canal of his left ear and then spread to his brain lining.
— 2GO_Health (@2Go_Health) March 12, 2019
Doctors call his medical condition “necrotizing otitis externa,” and define it as infection of the soft tissue in the region between the outside of the ear to the eardrum.
The doctors performed surgery to remove the cotton swab from his ear canal that had gotten covered with wax and debris.
The man had been experiencing ear pain and hearing loss in his left ear for the past five years and Charlton told Fox News that the earbud was probably there for a long time, leading to his recurrent ear issues and finally the severe episode.
Charlton said cotton swabs have been a cause of infections, punctured eardrums, and impacted ear wax. “They can only cause problems,” he told Fox News.
In 2017, 543.75 billion units of cotton buds were produced globally, according to a report by PR News.
Cotton swabs can be dangerous for cleaning ears, according to a report by Healthy Hearing. Medical practitioners have seen many accidents and infections caused by the use of cotton swabs.
Our ear canals produces cerumen, commonly known as wax to keep it protected and lubricated. For some people, the ear canal produces more cerumen than others and many use cotton swabs to clean it out. However, the cotton swab can easily reach the eardrum and if used with force can puncture it. Healthy Hearing reports that the eardrum can heal but not before causing severe pain, infection, and possible hearing loss.
— Advanced Hearing (@AHTHearing) March 11, 2019
Shared via https://t.co/nVqspaz3tz: Man’s severe bacterial infection, seizures pinned on cotton swab used while cleaning ear
— DME MEDS (@DMEMEDS) March 12, 2019