A 31-year-old man contracted a skull infection after cleaning his ears using cotton buds.
The man from Britain developed necrotizing otitis externa, a bacterial infection that targets the skull lining. After collapsing and suffering from seizures, he was taken to hospital in Coventry where doctors discovered the infection, according to the Sun.
Doctors found a piece of cotton wool that had become stuck in one of his ears after he used cotton buds. The area then became infected and it spread up through his ear canal and into his skull.
He had been battling symptoms for over five years, being treated for two ear infections before doctors discovered what had happened.
Before he was taken to the hospital, he experienced severe headaches that made him puke. He also began to have neurological symptoms, such as forgetting people’s names.
The man was taken for a CT scan on his brain, which revealed two pus-filled abscesses in the bones at the base of his skull.
Some signs of necrotizing otitis externa include foul-smelling green or yellow drainage from the ear, ear pain that gets worse when moving, persistent itching in the ear canal and hearing loss.
Fortunately, the man made a full recovery after the cotton wool was removed via minor surgery and a two-week course of antibiotics to eliminate the infection.
This story doesn’t mean you have to have dirty ears forever. The NHS says on their website: “Don’t use your fingers or any objects like cotton buds to remove earwax. This will push it in and make it worse.”
If you use cotton swabs, do not insert them into the ear canal as it will push the wax deeper. Just clean the outer part of your ear by wiping the area with a warm, damp cloth.
To soften wax, you can buy over-the-counter eardrops that may contain baby oil, mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, saline, or glycerine.
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