Using a cotton bud to clean your ears is so much more dangerous than you think
Everyone has a different strategy when it comes to removing ear wax – some use cotton buds, some use candles and some use oils, and some people don’t do anything at all.
Yet, a recent medical horror story has made us swear off cotton buds for good. According to Live Science, a 31-year-old English man unknowingly got the tip of a cotton bud stuck in his ear canal which then developed into a severe bacterial infection. The infection started in the canal and progressed into the bone at the base of his skull before moving upward into the lining of his brain. This ultimately caused vomit-inducing headaches and memory loss.
According to the case file from University Hospital Coventry, published in BMJ Case Reports, while the infection didn’t enter the man’s brain, the man started to experience pain and discharge from his left ear and only found out about the infection after he was admitted to hospital following a seizure.
This pain, the man said, was nothing new. He had been experiencing pain and hearing loss in his left ear for five years before a CT scan ultimately revealed two inflamed areas in the bones at the base of his skull. When doctors performed surgery, they removed the missing cotton bud tip that by then was covered in wax and debris. After the removal, the man’s hearing improved and the pain subsided.
Ear wax should always be removed by a professional to avoid long term damage to the ear. Home attempts almost always have a negative effect by pushing wax further in the canal and making it more impacted – making it more difficult to remove.
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