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In-ear headphones caused a ‘black forest of fungus’ to grow in a boy’s ear, and it definitely doesn’t look like something you’d want to get yourself.
The 10-year-old boy was taken to hospital in Beijing, China, earlier this month after he started to feel discomfort in his ears.
According to reports, the young boy wore the earphones for long periods of time, which is why doctors believed the fungus had started to grow.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Wu Yuhua shared the photos with the Maternal and Child Health Hospital of Shunyi District to demonstrate what they found in the boy’s ear.
Dr Wu described what they saw as ‘a black forest of fungus’.
It’s thought that the earphones had trapped moisture in his warm ear, creating the perfect environment for the mould to grow.
The 10-year-old is also said to have liked to ‘pick his ear’, which doctors suggest is most likely how spores were transferred from his hand into his ear.
To clear the patient’s ear canal, Dr Wu put him on course of anti-fungal medication, and the young boy has since go on to make a full recovery.
Following this unusual case, Dr Wu has advised people to keep their ears as dry as possible, in order to discourage the growth of fungus.
While it’s unknown what type of earphones the boy was using, small, white and sometimes wireless earphones in the ears of teenagers and adults are a common sight across the globe.
The wireless earphones have grown in popularity recently, with Apple AirPods claiming 41% of the wireless earphone market last year, according to Business Insider.
Following their popularity, medical professionals have gone on to warn people of the potential heath issues they – alongside other in-ear headphones – can cause.
However, it should be noted the case of the 10-year-old boy seems to be quite an extreme one, and while it is rare for fungus to grow in your ears, users should be aware of the potential buildup of wax earphones can cause.
Clinical director of Earworx, Lisa Hellwege spoke about what could happen if you use them too often.
Speaking to Yahoo! News Australia, she said:
Anything that obstructs that natural pathway of wax out of the ears can lead to wax buildup. As with earplugs and hearing aids, earphones sit in the part of the canal where wax is produced, and can actually stimulate the production of more wax when they are in use.
According to Hellwege, ‘water trapped behind built-up wax, especially in humid environments, can lead to ear infections’, while symptoms can include pain, odour, discharge and itching.
So there you have it; keep your earphone usage to a minimum and to remember to clean them every now and again.
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