Connect with us

HEALTH

A Man Cleaned His Ears with a Cotton Swab. Then He Got an Infection in His Skull.

Dani Love

Published

on

A man in England has sworn off cleaning his ears with cotton swabs after developing a potentially life-threatening infection that not only affected his hearing, but also spread to the lining of his brain and caused neurological symptoms, according to a new report of his case.

The 31-year-old man’s troubles began when the tip of a cotton swab got stuck inside his ear canal, although he told doctors that he wasn’t sure exactly how or when this happened.

A bit of cotton left in the ear may sound harmless, but in this case, it wreaked havoc. [27 Oddest Medical Case Reports]

The man developed a severe bacterial infection that started in his ear canal, progressed into the bone at the base of his skull and then moved upward, into the lining of his brain, the meninges, said lead author Dr. Alexander Charlton, a member of the team of ear, nose and throat specialists involved in the patient’s treatment at University Hospital Coventry in England.

Even though the infection didn’t enter the man’s brain — it didn’t progress beyond the lining — it was clearly causing neurological symptoms. The man was rushed to the emergency room after experiencing a seizure and collapsing, according to the case report.

Charlton told that he suspects that either toxins from the bacterial infection or pressure on the brain from the infection triggered the seizure.

The man’s symptoms, however, started long before his seizure occurred, according to the report. He had been experiencing pain and discharge from his left ear for about 10 days prior to the seizure and had experienced headaches on the left side of his head that were so severe, they made him vomit. In addition, he had started having trouble remembering people’s names.

But the problems in the man’s ear were nothing new; he told doctors that he had experienced left ear pain and hearing loss over the past five years and had been treated twice for severe ear infections on the same side.

When he came to the hospital, doctors gave him a CT scan to examine his brain; the images revealed two abscesses, or inflamed areas filled with pus, in the bones at the base of his skull, adjacent to his left ear canal. This signaled to doctors that although the infection may have begun inside the man’s ear canal, it had spread beyond that area.

The man was diagnosed with “necrotizing otitis externa,” or an infection in the soft tissue of the external auditory canal. (The external auditory canal is the portion of the ear canal from the outside of the ear to the eardrum.)

The man’s doctors performed a minor surgery to explore his ear canal; during this operation, they located and removed the cotton swab tip that had gone missing. The swab was impacted and surrounded by wax and debris, suggesting that it had been there for some time, Charlton said, adding that it probably contributed to the man’s recurrent ear infections over the years, culminating in the particularly severe episode.

The man spent nearly a week in the hospital and needed two months of intravenous and oral antibiotics to treat the infection, but he had no long-term hearing or thinking problems.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he was advised to never use cotton swabs in his ears again. “They can only cause problems,” Charlton said, noting that cotton swabs have been linked to ear infections, punctured eardrums and impacted ear wax.

The case was published online on March 6 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Writer, content contributor and member of the Human Parasites Support Network. #NYU. Survivor and victim of #LymeDisease. Co-host on the H.P.S.N. Talk show

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Medical News

#CDC

Thinking about getting pregnant? Blood clots can happen during pregnancy. Pregnant women are 5 times more likely to develop a blood clot than women who are not pregnant. Know your risks for a #bloodclot to prepare for a safe and healthy pregnancy. bit.ly/2GRFsqF

test Twitter Media - Thinking about getting pregnant? Blood clots can happen during pregnancy. Pregnant women are 5 times more likely to develop a blood clot than women who are not pregnant. Know your risks for a #bloodclot to prepare for a safe and healthy pregnancy. https://t.co/R19sPQuXl0 https://t.co/WernFHrM77

Children ages 4 through 6 need additional doses of some vaccines, as well as a flu vaccine every year. If your child has missed any #vaccines, ask your child’s doctor about catch-up vaccinations. Learn what vaccines your child may need. bit.ly/2Hqropy #FAQFriday

Contact Lens Health Week is almost here. You only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them! Taking proper care of your contact lenses can help you see better and keep your eyes healthy. go.usa.gov/xUsBv

test Twitter Media - Contact Lens Health Week is almost here. You only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them! Taking proper care of your contact lenses can help you see better and keep your eyes healthy. https://t.co/rDLPs3LSiL https://t.co/R31DYga5Hn

During the transition to adulthood, health & safety issues such as violence, substance use, & sexual risk behaviors can adversely affect adolescents and young adults. Watch #CDCGrandRounds 8/20 at 1pm ET for an encore session on adolescent health. bit.ly/2ZYugPr

Public Health Agencies: NNDSS announces the availability of new #HL7 message mapping guides for sending your trichinellosis and babesiosis diseases case notifications to CDC. Learn more: go.usa.gov/xnsRm.

test Twitter Media - Public Health Agencies: NNDSS announces the availability of new #HL7 message mapping guides for sending your trichinellosis and babesiosis diseases case notifications to CDC. Learn more: https://t.co/rf6nSpYLj3. https://t.co/mrfOpN26m0

#LymeDisease

I am doing a few polls to get a sense of how the #chronicillness community feels about their illness, their lives & themselves. I'd love your input. There is no wrong answer. #spoonie #chronicillness #chronicpain #disabled #LymeDisease #MECFS #Dysautonomia #MCAS #lupus #EDS

One more. Which of these feels the most true? If none, but another answer pops in your head, reply and let me know what it is. 🖤 #spoonie #chronicillness #chronicpain #disabled #LymeDisease #MECFS #Dysautonomia #MCAS #lupus #EhlersDanlosSPrimarily Most days, I am...

This is my dear friend, she is truly in need. Please read her validated story and donate or RT or Both🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻. I’m very concerned for both Julie and her Mom. #LymeDisease #CDiff twitter.com/nofearnofavors…

"We need a national public-private strategy that abandons our current low-impact approach to diseases brought by ticks." By Barbara Keber, MD, and Holly Ahern, PhD. #ticks #TBDWG #LymeDisease lymedisease.org/keber-ahern/

LYME SCI: Early diagnosis necessitates Lyme-savvy doctors. #LymeDisease lymedisease.org/early-diagnosi…

#NTD’s

By 2050, Nigeria & DRC will be home to more than 40% of the world’s poorest people. Poverty is closely linked to a whole host of deadly diseases, including #NTDs & #malaria. News vaccines & better access to existing ones will be crucial. ow.ly/KgTD50vsXej

Trending

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. The Human Parasite Support Network.