An Australian woman candidly detailed her experience with a could-have-been deadly infection that occurred after she used cotton swabs to clean out her ears. She’s now warning others to be wary of using the swabs, which technically are not recommended to be used for that purpose.
The woman, who identified herself only as Jasmine, detailed her experience to the Australian outlet That’s Life! in May. The 37-year-old, who said she used cotton swabs to clean her ears for years, eventually developed a “shrill ringing” in her left ear and also suffered from hearing loss.
“Cleaning my ears every night with cotton buds, I felt a dull ache as I prodded,” she wrote, noting she had trouble hearing her two young sons, 10-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Cody.
Jasmine claims she went to a doctor who prescribed her antibiotics for an ear infection. But she didn’t improve and later noticed a “brown discharge” in her ear before she claims blood began to appear.
She went to a different doctor, a general practitioner, who, after conducting a hearing test, confirmed she had “moderate deafness” in her left ear. That doctor then recommended Jasmine see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor.
The ENT, after evaluating Jasmine, then gave her a diagnosis that she claims made her feel ill.
The doctor, who Jasmine did not identify, told her she was suffering from a “severe bacterial infection [that] was eating away at my skull behind my ear.”
The specialist reportedly told her that she “needed surgery yesterday” and she “could die” from the infection. The doctor also told Jasmine she would have to reschedule her honeymoon with her now-husband, Bryon. The two were slated to take the trip in May 2018, but Jasmine’s surgery would prevent her from flying.
“The next month, I went under the knife to have the infection removed,” she said. “Surgeons had to reconstruct my ear canal and take out the affected tissue during a five-hour surgery.”
Jasmine said the surgeon who worked on her later told her that the fibers from the cotton swabs became lodged in her ear over the years, leading to the infection.
“The cotton had been collecting and festering for as long as five years, and my skull bone behind the ear was paper-thin,” she claimed, adding the surgeon told her she “pushed the cotton bud way too far” into her ear.
"I shudder to think what might have happened if I put off seeing a doctor any longer."
A year post-op, Jasmine said she is still “struggling to hear” in her left ear but refuses to wear a hearing aid because “her pride has gotten in the way.”
“I shudder to think what might have happened if I put off seeing a doctor any longer. If I’d gone when I first started hearing the noise, I could’ve saved my hearing,” she said.
“I now try to warn everyone of the dangers of misusing cotton buds. Our ears are such delicate and sensitive parts of our body and need to be treated with care. It’s so scary that my simple act of hygiene could have cost me my life,” she concluded.
This isn’t the first time someone has developed a serious infection linked to cotton swabs. In March, a 31-year-old British man developed a bacterial infection in his skull that was connected to using cotton swabs to clean his ears. He reportedly experienced memory loss and headaches that made him vomit. He later had a seizure triggered by the infection, which landed him in the hospital.