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Doctor's video shows a cotton bud lodged deep inside a man's ear canal

Why you should NEVER clean your ear with a cotton bud: Gruesome footage shows a doctor pull a stuck Q-tip from deep inside a man’s ear canal

  • The cotton wool had separated from the stick and become stuck by the ear drum 
  • If the ear drum is perforated it could lead to hearing loss or infection
  • The patient recovered after seeing Neel Raithatha, a consultant audiologist, 
  • Mr Raithatha, a YouTube sensation, filmed as he sucked the cotton wool out 

Many people guilty of using cotton buds to clean their ears despite being told it’s dangerous.  

But a doctor’s video showing a Q-tip lodged deep inside a man’s ear canal has served as a reminder of how risky the practise is.

Neel Raithatha, a consultant audiologist and YouTube sensation known as the ‘Wax Whisperer’, filmed his retrieval of the cotton wool from the unidentified man’s ear using tweezers. 

While the man had been using the cotton bud to reach an itch inside his ear, the cotton wool had fallen away from the plastic stick and become stuck.

It was resting just by his ear drum. The area is delicate and if perforated, could lead to hearing loss. 

This patient recovered unscathed. However, cotton buds can cause a range of problems, including infections, impacted earwax, and tinnitus. 

Gruesome footage shows Neel Raithatha, a consultant audiologist and YouTube sensation, pull a stuck Q-tip from deep inside a man’s ear canal (pictured)

Mr Raithatha used an endoscope, an instrument that can look inside the body and is usually attached to a video monitor, so he could see what’s in the ear canal and film it. The video shows him gently pulling at the cotton wool and retrieve it with the tweezers

Mr Raithatha, who operates out of his clinic in Leicester, said the man was suffering with an infection and inflammation.

He said: ‘He [the patient] suffers from otitis externa and was using the cotton bud in an attempt to relieve the itchiness and irritation he was experiencing.’

Mr Raithatha did not reveal what happened next, but said the man was in pain and discomfort by the time he sought help.


Earwax usually falls out on its own but, in some cases, it can become blocked.

It cannot be prevented as the wax is there to protect ears from water, dirt germs, infection and foreign bodies.

Some people are more likely to suffer buildup, for example the elderly or people who use hearing aids.

But those who use cotton buds often may also suffer with wax build up. This is because cotton buds can push the wax further into the canal, where it hardens.

Cotton buds can cause other problems, including infections, perforated ear drums, which can lead to hearing loss, and tinnitus.

In the worst cases, a bud had led to necrotising otitis externa, a bacterial infection that starts in the ear canal before spreading to the skull, where it eats through the bone.

Facial nerves can also be affected, causing a stroke-like droop. Also known as malignant otitis externa, it is usually seen in the elderly.

If you need help with earwax build-up, the NHS recommends seeing a pharmacist who can suggest remedies.

Or, you could try putting two or three drops of olive or almond oil in your ear twice a day for a few days.

Over two weeks lumps of earwax should fall out of your ear, especially at night when you’re lying down.

Normally, Mr Raithatha would normally use an instrument with gentle suction to attach to the object that is obstructing the passage and pull it out.

‘The ear canal was heavily inflamed and it was not possible to insert a normal size suction probe inside,’ he said.

‘I therefore attached a finer suction tip to obtain access.

‘I managed to extract the cotton bud enough to then use crocodile forceps to fully extract the cotton bud out of the ear.’

Mr Raithatha used an endoscope, an instrument that can look inside the body and is usually attached to a video monitor, so he could see what’s in the ear canal and film it. 

The video shows him gently pulling at the cotton wool. It starts to separate and becoming stringy just as he draws it out far enough to retrieve it with the tweezers.  

‘The client was over the moon,’ Mr Raithatha said.

‘He was due to go out on New Year’s Eve but felt he couldn’t due to the discomfort and pain experienced by having the cotton bud stuck inside his ear.

‘He was very grateful that I was able to help him at such short notice.’ 

Mr Raithatha also goes by the name ‘The Wax Whisperer’ because he regularly posts videos of his work on YouTube to more than 150,000 subscribers.

His latest production, filmed on December 31 2019, already has more than 22,000 views. 

In the past, he’s removed a twig, a pen cap, an earring, a plastic clothes tag and the ‘worst’ item, a piece of comb tooth.

Such items can puncture the eardrum, causing sudden ear pain, sometimes bleeding from the ear, hearing loss, or noise in the ear. 

It normally heals on its own but may need surgery, and is the reason health officials urge against using cotton buds.

The NHS, GPs and even the manufacturers warn against digging inside the ear with cotton buds — but millions still do it to clean up or relive an itch. 

Cotton buds can ram ear wax further into the ear, where it becomes compact and hard, blocking the ear. 

Earwax usually falls out on its own because it travels out the ear as skin grows. If you find it doesn’t, the NHS recommends using olive oil to moisten the wax, or seeing a pharmacist. 

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  • Posted on February 4, 2020