An Australian woman had a terrifying brush with death after a cotton bud caused a bacterial infection which ate through her skull.
Jasmine told That's Life magazine she used to clean her ears with a cotton bud as part of her nightly routine.
After years of on and off pain, and a ringing noise, Jasmine says early last year she began to experience hearing loss too.
When the 37-year-old mum realised she could barely hear her children, she booked a doctor's appointment and was given antibiotics for an ear infection.
She continued her nightly cleaning routine while taking the medication and noticed a dull pain in her ear whenever she probed it with the cotton bud.
"After a while, I noticed a brownish discharge on the end of the bud. Then blood started appearing," she said.
She went back to the doctor who recommended an ear, nose and throat specialist.
"After a CT scan the specialist sat me down," Jasmine told That's Life.
The specialist told her a severe bacterial infection was eating away at Jasmine's skull.
"'You needed surgery yesterday' he told me," she told the magazine.
Without the surgery, the infection could spread and eat into Jasmine's brain. She was told she could die.
A five-hour operation removed the infected tissue and reconstructed Jasmine's ear canal.
Afterwards, Jasmine was told the cotton fibres from the bud had lodged in her ear and become infected.
"The cotton had been collecting and festering for as long as five years and my skull bone behind the ear was paper-thin," she said.
The surgeon told Jasmine if she had waited any longer to see a doctor, she would be dead.
The infection has left lifelong marks - Jasmine has permanently damaged her hearing.
"A firecracker could go off beside my ear and I'd barely register it."
She says she has now learnt she was pushing the cotton bud far too deep, and using it far too frequently.
According to Healthline, people shouldn't put anything smaller than their elbow into their ear.
If you notice pain, ringing, or loss of hearing visit a doctor immediately.