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Man Gets Potentially Fatal Heart Infection After Picking Tooth To Remove Stuck Popcorn

Man Gets Potentially Fatal Heart Infection After Picking Tooth To Remove Stuck Popcorn

The dad-of-three says he thinks using a metal nail and piece of wire to remove the lodged piece of food led to his illness

Claire Reid

Claire Reid

A man had to undergo seven-hour-long heart surgery after contracting a potentially fatal blood infection from picking his teeth to remove stuck popcorn.

Firefighter Adam Martin contracted endocarditis - an infection that can be deadly - after he struggled to dislodge a piece of popcorn stuck between his teeth.

The infection is caused by germs from one part of your body - such as your mouth - these then travel through your bloodstream and damage part of the heart.


When trying to get to the bottom of what caused the infection, Adam says the only thing he can think of is his constant poking at his teeth when he got a piece of popcorn stuck in there for three days.

Adam said he tried a number of different things to try and get the food out including a metal nail, pen lid and a piece of wire.

After poking about, Adam said he had toothache, but didn't go to a dentist and a week later he was struck down with night sweats, headaches, fatigue and a heart murmur.

Adam, from Coverack in Cornwall, said: "The doctors told me if I hadn't gone to the GP when I did then I could have been dead in three days.

Adam with his family.

"Most people die when they are at 350 on an infection scale and I was at 340. The infection had eaten my heart valves completely.

"If I had gone to the dentist in the first place then none of this would have happened. At one point it was quite touch and go. It was the worst experience of my life.

"I wasn't far off death's door and I am extremely lucky. The popcorn stuck in my teeth is the only possible cause I can think of. I am never eating popcorn again that's for sure."

His shocking ordeal began when he tucked into some popcorn with his wife and ended with a seven-hour surgery.

Firefighter Adam at work.

The dad-of-three says when he first started experiencing symptoms of infection, he originally mistook it for flu and went to see his GP. His doctor sent him for blood tests and X-rays which came back showing he only 'slightly raised inflammation markers'.

So, he went home to recover, but days later he was feeling no better and he'd also developed a blood blister on his toe, which might sound innocuous but was later diagnosed as Janeway lesion, an external indication of infective endocarditis.

Fearing that his condition was worsening, Adam went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

He said: "I had a feeling there was something seriously wrong. I was sleeping an awful lot and I felt terrible.


"I had aches and pains in my legs and I just did not feel right at all. I was admitted to hospital the same day for tests. By this point I was very worried.

"I felt quite ill and I knew I was not right at all."

The pain in his leg turned out to be an infection clot, which would take a whopping five-hour operation to remove. He was given medication to help him beat the infection, but scans revealed his heart had been severely damaged and he would need an operation.

Adam said: "My heart was not properly working anymore. It was essentially wrecked. The infection had eaten the valves away.

"I should have just gone to the dentist in the first place. I don't want anyone to go through what I have done.


"It all happened so quickly, and it did get sketchy. I won't be going near popcorn again, that's for sure.

"It's crazy to think all this happened because of that. It was something so trivial."

Thankfully, Adam has made a speedy recovery since the operation in October and is now back home with his wife and children.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: UK News