Cleaning your ears may be a harmless part of your hygiene routine, but it almost killed Jasmine Small.
The mum-of-four experienced a VERY close call following years of hearing problems and suffering from other unpleasant symptoms, such as discovering a brown, smelly discharge and bleeding whenever she cleaned her left ear.
Jasmine, from New South Wales, Australia, first suspected something wasn't quite right back in 2016.
"I couldn't really hear out of my left ear. That was the biggest thing," she told Yahoo7 .
"That lasted about seven or eight months."
After encouragement from her partner, Jasmine sought advice from her doctor.
It was the first of several visits over the space of a year, with Jasmine feeling like she was never being taken seriously.
During this time, her symptoms persisted and also included a pain in her left ear.
In 2017 she was finally referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist and was told that she needed an operation.
It was at this point that the root of all the pain was discovered.
"He [the doctor] said, 'what have you put in your ear?' I said, 'cotton buds'. He said, 'how far do you go down?'" Jasmine explains.
"He said, 'if you put this off any longer you probably would've died'."
The frightening extent of the damage was revealed in a CT scan where a loose strand of cotton from a cotton bud had become infected very close to her brain.
Doctors believe the piece of cotton could have been festering for up to five years.
Despite an operation, however, Jasmine's hearing has been permanently damaged and she now faces another round of surgery to hopefully correct it.
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