Turns Out Cotton Buds Can Potentially Kill You

It's time to be careful when you're cleaning your ears.

In a case of "what the heck isn't dangerous in this world?" it has now been revealed that cleaning your ears can kill you.

Well. Kind of.

A man in England has sworn off cleaning his ears with cotton buds after developing a potentially life-threatening infection called “necrotizing otitis externa” -- which is as full on as it sounds.

The 31-year-old man's troubles began when the tip of a cotton swab got stuck inside his ear canal.

He 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, according to Dr. Alexander Charlton, a member of the team of ear, nose and throat specialists involved in his treatment at University Hospital Coventry in England.

READ MORE: Eight Super Gross But Surprisingly Helpful Facts About Earwax

Image: Getty

According to Live Science, the man reportedly started experiencing pain and discharge from his ear, and within 10 days had a seizure that caused him to collapse and get rushed to the hospital.

But it gets worse. Apparently, the poor man had been experiencing pain and hearing loss for five years -- and after doctors removed the swab, it was reportedly “impacted and surrounded by wax and debris, suggesting that it had been there for some time.”

Excuse us a moment.

Okay -- as you were.

Following the procedure, he required two months of various antibiotics to treat his infection, and was kept in the hospital for nearly a week.

10 daily asked Dr Sally Cockburn what her advice would be for any of us used to sticking cotton buds in our orifices with little regard for safety.

"My father ( also a health professional ) always used to say 'don’t put anything in your ear that is smaller than your elbow'," she told us.

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"I once saw a patient in Emergency who was cleaning her ears with a cotton bud and got distracted when her phone rang -- answering that phone destroyed her hearing in that ear as it forced the bud deep into her ear."

Ear wax is produced as a cleaning agent for the ear canal. Let it do its job because fiddling around in the canal may cause more wax production, irritate or introduce infection."

And as for using cotton buds? "t’s fine to clean the 'shell' of your ear but if you think wax production has blocked the canal please consult  a trained health professional to check the canal and advise on the best next steps," she told 10 daily.

Feature image: Getty