I’ve been told 1,000 times how bad Q-Tips are for your ears. All the doctors and what have yous say the same stuff, how doing it just smashes ear wax down into your ear canal, making the problem worse. How if you go too far you can hurt your ear drum. You increase your chances of an ear infection. I’ve heard it all, I know it all, and I continue to swab the hell out of my ears with those little things, relentlessly. I’ll tell you, not much feels better than getting a good Q-Tip swabbing. It’s like when you get a good back crack and you immediately feel all that pressure released. It’s just such a pleasant feeling. Well as it turns out, cleaning your ears with a Q-Tip is potentially…deadly?
NY Post - A British man contracted a “potentially life-threatening” bacterial infection in the lining of his skull after he used a cotton swab to clean his ear.
A piece of the cotton got stuck in the 31-year-old man’s ear canal, made its way up his skull and reached the lining of his brain, causing neurological symptoms like seizures. He was then taken to the emergency room after he collapsed, reports Live Science.
Dr. Alexander Charlton, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the University Hospital Coventry in England who treated the man, told Live Science that the man’s seizures could be linked to the bacterial infection causing toxins or brain pressure.
The man underwent a CT scan and was diagnosed with “necrotizing otitis externa,” a bacterial infection in the auditory canal. He was able to undergo a minor surgery, where doctors were able to locate and remove the cotton swab.
But the man had to spend about a week in hospital and had to take two months of antibiotics to kill the infection. Thankfully he had no long-term brain or auditory problems. The extraordinary case was published in medical journal BMJ Case Reports.
The lucky patient has now been ordered to swear off using cotton swabs for his ears again.
“They can only cause problems,” Charlton said.
Well damn. I guess just add “brain aneurysm” to the list. I’ll tell you this though, “necrotizing otitis externa” doesn’t sound pleasant. Next time I’m having a field day, just Tip’n away on my ears, “necrotizing otitis externa” might slip into my mind for a hot second before I say “meh, that happened to that dude in England, so no way it’ll also happen to me”. I can break a lot of habits, but this just ain’t one of them.
PS: I did do one of those ear candling things when they clean them out and oh man, could not recommend that more. You hear everything clearer, feel lighter, the birds are chirping and the sun shines brighter. Doing that should be as normal as going to the dentist. You get your teeth professionally cleaned, why not the ears?