A cotton swab in the ear can kill, Quebec coroner says
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | 4:31 PM ET
The Quebec coroner’s office says cotton swab manufacturers should warn consumers about putting their product in their ears after a man died from related complications.
"I think we should go one step further, and maybe have a pictogram on the package, with a little ear and a red X mark," Quebec coroner Dr. Jacques Ramsay suggested.
In a report released Tuesday, Ramsay said using a cotton swab even once to clean inside ears can lead to fatal consequences.
Ramsay investigated the death of Montreal resident Daniel St-Pierre, who died in March 2007, two days after he accidentally pierced his eardrum with a cotton swab.
St-Pierre, 43, died of meningitis-induced intracranial complications caused by a bacterial ear infection that he developed after accidentally piercing his eardrum with a cotton swab while trying to treat a painful earache.
While the medical community is aware of dangers presented by cotton swabs, ordinary people often aren’t, Ramsay said.
The best way to clean inside one’s ear is with the little finger, he said.
I can personally tell you that this is not a fun experience.
I did something similar when I was 18 years of age or so. I exerted a little too much pressure when I was cleaning my right inner ear, and the next thing I knew, it had slipped and blood was gushing out. The pain was phenomenal.
A friend of mine, Colin Moore drove with me up to the Stat-care at Southwest One to see Doctor Jansen. I was told that although I had come close to the ear drum, what I had torn was instead the lining of my ear. It was clogged with blood for the next couple of weeks, and I was obliged to pump it with hydrogen peroxide twice a day using a bulb to loosen things up and prevent infection