How many times do we need to say that it’s bad to use a cotton bud to clean your ears? According to an article published in the BMJ Case Reports journal, a 31-year-old British man contracted a rare skull infection because of this small object. A piece of cotton got caught in his auditory canal for 5 years
What if cotton buds were to become public enemy number one? We already knew that it poses a threat to our water pipes, that it’s one of the biggest polluters of our oceans, and that it’s hardly our ears’ best friend. Thanks to an article published in the BMJ Case Reports journal, we have discovered that it can put our life at risk!
Ear convulsions and pain
When the 31-year-old man drove to the A&E department at Coventry University Hospital, he wassuffering from convulsions, headaches, nausea, and the liquid was coming out of his left ear. On looking at his medical record, the practitioners discovered that the patient had been suffering for 5 years from intermittent pain in his left ear and that his hearing ability was weaker as well.
Symptoms that his GP has taken for an ear inflammation, and which he prescribed antibiotics for. According to the Daily Mail, the man had also experienced difficulties remembering his loved ones’ names and had vomited a few days before convulsing.
The patient didn’t have a fever, but his cognitive difficulties were serious enough to warn the doctors, who are going to do a more advanced examination. What they discovered has shocked them and made us want to change our ways as soon as possible.
“Necrotising external otitis”
In order to avoid cerebral meningitis which can be fatal, the doctors prescribed him antibiotics and made him have a scan. This exam gave updates on the presence of two abscesses located in his skull. The doctors had to put him under a general anaesthetic so that they could better examine his auditory canal.
Generally provoked by bacteria, this type of infection affects the auditory canal, the closest bone and in this case, the tissues found inside the skull. It doesn’t affect the brain.
The doctors who examined him noted in their report that a piece of cotton lodged in the ear “is a common cause of infections and injuries, but that such an infection had never been seen before”.
After having removed the end of the cotton, the doctors gave the patient intravenous antibiotics for one week and prescribed treatment for 8 extra weeks after leaving the hospital. The 31-year-old Brit was completely cured 10 weeks after his arrival at the emergency department.
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