Man catches deadly infection in his skull after cleaning ear with cotton bud

A man suffered seizures and collapsed after using a cotton bud to clean his ear.

The British man, 31, contracted what’s known as necrotising otitis externa – a bacterial infection – that targeted the lining of his skull.

Doctors said that a piece of the cotton became lodged in his ear canal before making its way up his skull.

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This is not how you should clean your ears (Picture: Getty)

It then reached the lining of his brain, sparking the seizures, an ear, nose and throat specialist at University Hospital Coventry said.

Dr Alexander Charlton treated the man and said the fits may have been linked to the infection causing toxins or the pressure it put on his brain.

The patient had a CT scan and had to have minor surgery to remove the cotton.

He spent a week in hospital and two months on antibiotics and is now doing well without any long-term hearing or brain issues.

The British Medical Journal stated: ‘ At 10 weeks, the patient remained well, with no neurological deficit and no residual ear symptoms, and CT demonstrated complete resolution of the intracranial abscesses.’

He will no longer be using cotton buds to clean his ears.

Use olive oil to clean wax out of your ear

This might come as a bit of a surprise, but the best way to clear wax out of your ears, according to the NHS, is to use a couple of drops of olive or almond oil.

This is the NHS advice in full:

Don’t use your fingers or any objects like cotton buds to remove earwax. This will push it in and make it worse.

Earwax usually falls out on its own. If it doesn’t and blocks your ear, put 2 to 3 drops of olive or almond oil in your ear twice a day for a few days.

Over 2 weeks lumps of earwax should fall out of your ear, especially at night when you’re lying down.

There’s no evidence that ear candles or ear vacuums get rid of earwax.

For more information about earwax visit the NHS.


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