A 31-year-old UK man developed an infection in the lining of his brain because part of a cotton swab had unknowingly become lodged in his ear, according to a case report.
The man arrived at an emergency room after having a seizure and collapsing. He had been complaining of left ear pain and ear discharge for the past 10 days, and also recent headaches, nausea and vomiting. The man also reported suddenly forgetting names.
It was a severe infection – one that had progressed to the bone at the base of his skull and into the lining of his brain, the case report notes.
Doctors decided to go into the man’s ear while he was under general anaesthesia to see whether they could identify the cause. What they found was the tip of a cotton swab, encased in wax, discharge and “debris”.
After the cotton swab was removed, the man began feeling better.
At 10 weeks, the man reported no neurological problems and no residual ear symptoms. He’s also promised to no longer use cotton swabs to clean his ears, the case report says.
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