Man Gets Brain Infection After Cleaning Ear With Cotton Swab

An English man developed a brain infection after a cotton swab was found stuck in his ear. He had been complaining of excruciating pain for the past five years before he experienced a seizure. He had been vomiting and noticed a defect in his hearing abilities.

Ears, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. Alexander Charlton attended to the patient who experienced excruciating ear pain for half a decade. He noticed a discharge from the man’s left ear and that the patient vomited on several occasions and had difficulty remembering people’s names. The patient only admitted himself to examination after he had a seizure and collapsed. He was then recommended to undergo a CT scan, according to People.

Results of the scan showed damaged bones in the base of his skull. Doctors who treated the English man at University Hospital Coventry then diagnosed him with necrotizing otitis externa. This medical condition is an infection in the auditory canal’s soft tissue. Dr. Charlton concluded that the patient incurred a severe bacterial infection that spread to his skull up to the linings of his brain. He also explained that the man’s forgetfulness and seizure were caused by the bacterial toxins’ pressure to his brain.

The patient was administered with general anesthesia while doctors examined his ear, reported USA Today. It was only then that they found a tip of a cotton swab stuck in his left ear. It was already encased in wax and surrounded by debris. Doctors opined that the cotton swab had been there for a longer period based on its location and the longevity of the patient’s neurological problems and pain sensations. After the swab was removed, the man’s pain and forgetfulness disappeared.

Charlton and the doctors who attended to the patient advised others to avoid using cotton swabs when cleaning ears. Other than cleaning the external parts of the ear, the motion in extracting dirt may cause infections that lead to hearing loss or damage the eardrums when done aggressively. Prolonged vertigo, facial paralysis and total deafness are also some of the negative effects of improper use of cotton swabs in cleaning the ears.​