A SHEFFIELD man who endured decades of painful earache and infections says his suffering is finally behind him - after doctors extracted a tooth from his ear canal.
Stephen Hirst, aged 47, of Torksey Road, Shiregreen, first complained of piercing pains in his right ear as a teenager, and since then has attended countless hospital appointments in an attempt to discover the bizarre cause of his mystery condition.
Stephen said the pain was sometimes so excruciating he would be left "screaming" in agony, until determined staff at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital discovered the tooth embedded in his ear.
"It's a mystery how it got there," said the former miner, originally from Ward Green, Barnsley.
"I would think it's a first tooth, looking at it, because it can't be big enough to be an adult tooth. I think it's a bottom tooth, one of the front incisors."
He said medics at the Royal Hallamshire were "determined to get to the bottom" of the cause of his earache.
"The nurse put a suction tube in my ear and cleaned it, then had a go with a microscope probe. Finally she used some tweezers and got it out.
"She didn't say anything at first. Then she asked me: 'Have you lost any teeth lately?' I said I'd not had any teeth in my head for years.
"She just said she couldn't believe what had happened, and showed me it.
"She said in 20 years she's never seen anything like it."
Stephen said his earache has now cleared up completely.
"It's absolutely brilliant," he said.
Stephen said he was plagued by earache since he was around 14, and was forced to stuff cotton wool into his right ear to combat his infections.
"I used to use a lot of cotton buds and cotton wool, and was prescribed antibiotics," he said. "When I was younger I used to just sit and bang my head on the wall because it hurt that much. I would be screaming - that's not exaggerating.
"I went again and again to the ear, nose and throat clinic. I can hardly hear anything in my right ear, the eardrum has disintegrated."
Stephen said he has a number of theories as to how the tooth could have lodged itself in his ear canal.
"At school we had wooden desks with lids, and one day I was swinging between two of them. I fell between them and smashed the back of my ear - it might have happened then.
"Once I also fell and broke my two front teeth, or maybe I pushed it in when I was a kid or something. I am intrigued as to how it got there."
Stephen lives with his wife Denise, 43, and has two children, Rebecca, 20 and Kai, nine. He worked as a coal miner in Barugh Green pit, Barnsley, and also at Barnsley Main, but gave up work around 15 years ago, partly due to his ear condition.
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