Cotton buds should not be used to clean ears, health officials said in 2017. Inserting a bud could cause damage to the ear canal and eardrum and push wax further down.
A man was immediately taken to the hospital after collapsing. He was discovered to have an infection in his skull caused by a cotton bud stuck in his ear.
The patient, real name withheld, is from the Coventry area,and reportedly been suffering from seizures, headaches, ear pain and discharge from his left ear.
He also admitted to being lately forgetful about people’s names prior to his hospitalization, and had been vomiting.
Doctors at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust treated the man after he arrived in A&E.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Alexander Charlton wrote in the journal BMJ Case Reports: ‘[The patient] had a background of intermittent left ear pain and hearing loss for the past five years.
‘He also admitted to being more forgetful of names in recent days, although denied other neurological symptoms.’
Medics had taken out cotton bud and debris from his ear and diagnosed the man with an uncommon infection called necrotising otitis externa.
It is caused by bacteria affecting the ear canal, surrounding bone and – in the case of this patient – tissue inside the skull, but not the brain.
CT scans doctors used to diagnose him found abscesses inside the skull, in the form of small empty spaces between his bone and brain.
After his ear was cleared out and he was hooked up to intravenous antibiotics, a scan six days later revealed his abscesses had shrunk.
And, after a week in hospital, he was discharged with an eight-week supply of medication and had recovered fully after 10 weeks.
In the report doctors wrote: ‘At the completion of his course of antibiotics, the patient remained systemically well with no neurological deficit and no residual ear symptoms.
‘Most importantly, he is no longer using cotton buds to clean his ears!’