This popular household plant can keep damaging your ears without you even realizing it!

A special team of doctors in Australia has observed an unexpected pattern of ear trauma in their patients over the past couple of years and they have reached the conclusion that this ear trauma is caused by a popular garden plant which is kept by almost everyone. 

Ornamental Yucca Plant (Source: Pinterest) 

The Yucca plants are bushes of hardy, evergreen shrubs, and trees which are originally from the Central American region. Many people use these plants as decorative items in gardens as well as indoors. Many of the yucca plants are grown as ornamental decorative pieces. 

The Yucca Plant (Source: Pinterest) 

One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Yucca plant is the fact that it has extremely spiky leaves which are usually pointed towards the end and these hard and fibrous leaves can cause an incredible amount of damage if you happen to come in contact of them. 

According to the doctors from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, these plants grow fast in nature and can lead to the decline in a person's ability to hear clearly. The team was led by otolaryngologist Stephen O'Leary and they identified about 28 patients over a period of five years. 

The results of their observation are pretty scary with around 25 people who ended up with perforated eardrums while 3 people were lucky enough to get away with an ear canal abrasion. O' Leary went on to speak to Steve Martin at ABC Radio where he revealed how most people are scared for their eyes when they are around the Yucca plant.

He continued, "But they don't really think that if the yucca plant is next to them, that those fronds can actually pass straight down the ear canal, like an arrow."

The levels and membranes of the ear (Source: Wikipedia) 

A hole in your eardrum can lead to a lot more problems and complications and it is known as a tympanic membrane perforation. The biggest problem with this is that you will not only end up with temporary hearing problems but also with extreme dizziness and loss of balance (vertigo). One could also be at a risk of middle ear infections. 

Luckily for us, in most cases, a ruptured eardrum will tend to heal itself over a period of time and will leave no further complication. According to these doctors, a yucca plant leaf can punch a hole in the ear farther than the eardrum which can lead to permanent hearing disabilities. 

The problem is, our eardrum is at the very beginning of the hearing system and process which allows us to transmit sound into our brains. If any sort of sharp object pierces it, it can reach all the way up to the next set of membranes that separate the middle ear as well as the inner ear which help to transmit sound.

This can lead to fluid from the first set leaking into the next set of membranes which will result in total and utter chaos. 

This kind of an injury is known as perilymph fistula (PLF). Almost four out of twenty-five patients seen by these special doctors ended up with this type of complication. The four patients suffered from acute dizziness for the first three days after the injury but the symptoms waned out which delayed the patients from showing up at the hospital. 

This led to a delayed diagnosis which was not very accurate either. If you go to a doctor after six weeks of getting a hole in your eardrum, it is very likely that the original injury will have totally healed up without a clue that there could be a much more serious problem lurking behind. 

Despite the four people with PLF having surgery as soon as they were diagnosed, they were never able to regain their hearing ability fully. This is one of the first comprehensive case studies which was conducted on how the Yucca plant can do some serious damage to your hearing. 

The case study led to the conclusion that the risk of getting the PLF infection following a spiky plant encounter is pretty high  "and should be better appreciated by ear, nose and throat surgeons, emergency physicians and primary care practitioners." Hence, it is probably a good idea to wear ear muffs if you are planning to stick your head into bushes of spiky plants. 

The Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many of this plant species bear edible parts such as the fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems, and roots.  The tough, fibrous leaves with their sharp-spined tips were used to puncture meat and knotted to form a loop with which to hang meat for salt curing or in smokehouses so you can imagine the damage it could do to your ear. 

Be careful around the Yucca plant! Here is a video which will instruct you on how you can physically remove the Yucca plant: 

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Ishani Ghose


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