Insect in ear

About bugs, worms, earwigs, spiders, flies & Co.

What you should know about symptoms, treatments & Co.

Small insects can, in fact, get trapped inside the human ear and the insects in question are usually small flies or beetles. Whilst an insect in the ear is a rare occurrence in Australia, the phenomenon of people reporting, “It feels like there’s something moving in my ear” is more common in countries where people tend to sleep on the floor. 

Frequently asked questions on insects in ears

Can an insect get in your ear?

The fear of an insect entering the ear is not completely unfounded. In a worst-case scenario, an insect such as a small spider or earwig could go in your ear during sleep; however, this is extremely unlikely. Firstly, Australian sleeping habits don’t favour its occurrence and, secondly, the human ear protects itself against intruders. Indeed, not only does the smell of our ear wax protect us from insects, but the bitter substances it contains also repels them.

The extremely low incidence of insects going into ears is also borne out by the press coverage of those very few cases that do occur, where insects in the ear in the USA or Asia are newsworthy events, even in Europe. For example, the Californian woman who had a tick in her ear was covered in medical journals for ENT specialists worldwide. In India a man had a 7cm cricket in his ear, a man in Australia had a cockroach and a Chinese woman had a jumping spider!

What type of insects can get in your ear?

Incidences of a bug in the ear can be caused by:

  • Worms
  • Earwigs
  • Spiders
  • Flies
  • Cockroaches
  • Bed Bugs
  • Moths
  • Mosquitos

Can an insect live in your ear?

An insect that has entered the ear will usually die very quickly. However, this doesn't always occur and, in some cases, an insect can live in your ear for a few days, causing discomfort and noise inside the ear.

Can you leave a dead bug in your ear

To avoid ear complaints like inflammation, a dead insect in the ear should be removed as soon as possible. If you suspect you have an insect in your ear, try to flush it out with warm water.

Can an insect lay eggs in your ear?

Insects, that enter the ear usually die quickly. For this reason, it is highly unlikely that a spider, moth or other insect can lay eggs in your ear canal.

Pulverized earwigs for ear diseases?

Dried and pulverized earwigs were used to treat ear complaints until the Middle Ages. However, earwigs are completely innocuous and are considered useful insects because they eat aphids and caterpillars. Indeed, they can't even pinch with their pincers which are only used to deter enemies and to unfold their rarely used, almost invisible, wings.
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Symptoms: How to tell if an insect is in your ear?

As previously mentioned, although extremely unlikely, is not impossible that an insect can enter the ear. To tell if a bug is in your ear, some common insect in ear symptoms are:

  • a tingling sensation and/or unexplained tickling
  • rushing noises, such as water in the ear, or ringing in the ears, which can be mistaken for tinnitus
  • a slight hearing loss with the impression that the ear is blocked
  • the feeling of a foreign object in the ear

If it is very quiet, you may not even notice an insect in your ear. If the insect remains in the ear for some time, a symptom can also be an inflammation of the ear canal, which is triggered by the insect’s presence.

Consequences

Problems, which can occur if an insect like an earwig goes in your ear are:

Other foreign object in the ear

Other foreign bodies in the ear are much more common than insects. For example, when working in the house and garden, parts of plants (seeds, pollen etc) can enter the ear; likewise, dust and sand. Foreign bodies in the ear canal usually come to light through hearing problems and the sensation of having something in the ear. However, this often a "home-grown" problem: plugs of earwax are the most common cause. You can try to remove these yourself with olive or coconut oil.  

Treatment: How to get an insect out of the ear?

First Aid

If a fly, moth, ant or other insect has found its way into the ear, keep calm. If you are unable to gently remove it yourself, don't hesitate to consult an ear, nose and throat specialist. Under no circumstances should you ever try to insert tweezers or anything similar into your ear. The risk of injury is far too great!

Removal at home

Yes, you can remove an insect from your ear at home, trying one of these three, non-invasive, ‘Do It Yourself’ methods. However, please note that if these don’t succeed, you should consult an ENT specialist immediately. To get a bug out of the ear you should:

  • shine a torch outside your ear in a darkened room. Many insects (e.g. flies, bugs, beetles and moths) use light sources for orientation; so, irresistibly attracted by the light, they can find their way out of the ear.
  • if this doesn't work, you can try rinsing your ear out with water. Tilt your head so that the affected ear is facing up. Let water run into the ear, then turn your head so that the water can run out again. The insect should then be flushed out.
  • If rinsing the ear with water did not help, you can try rinsing with plant oil (e.g. olive or coconut). Again, hold your head with the affected ear facing upwards and allow the oil to run into your ear. Remain in this position for a few minutes before tilting your head downwards. The insect will be suffocated and then washed out with the oil.

When to see a doctor

If you are removing an insect from your ear at home, it is highly recommended that you also see a doctor to check that it has been removed completely. Do not hesitate to see a specialist if you think insect has bitten, stung or scratched your eardrum.

Prevention

To avoid insects entering the ear, always keep your sleeping location clean. If you are camping outdoors, it is recommended that you close your tent and use insect spray. 

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Do you experience hearing loss while or after having an insect on your ear? Or would you like in general to test your hearing capabilities? Then come to one of +300 Amplifon clinics in Australia to attend a free hearing test.

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