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What to do if you have a bug, worm, earwig or spider in ear

Last update on Apr, 07, 2023

Can a bug get in your ear?

Small insects can get lost in people's ears. This is more common in countries where people sleep a lot on the floor. In the U.S. bugs in ears are rare. The most common bugs that get lost in ear are small flies or cockroaches.

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How can you tell if a bug is in your ear? Here are some of the symptoms.

As mentioned above, it is rare but not impossible to experience a bug in the ear. Common symptoms are:

  • persistent ear pain, but not localized
  • swelling
  • redness and itching
  • unexplained tingling and/or tickling sensation
  • suspicious buzzing, ringing in ear and strange echoes, that can be mistaken for tinnitus
  • bleeding or pus draining from the ear
  • mild hearing loss along with the impression that the ear is clogged and muffled external sounds.
  • a perception of a foreign object in the ear

What happens if a bug gets in your ear?

If the bug stays in the ear for a long time inflammation of the ear canal can occur. Other problems that can arise from a bug in the ear include:

  • rupture of the tympanic membrane
  • hearing loss
  • inflammation of the ear.

It is more likely that there are other foreign bodies in the ear than a bug. Indeed, for example, when working in the house or garden, parts of plants, dust and sand may enter the ear.

The presence of foreign bodies in the ear canal can either be perceived as a hearing problem or merely feels like something is present in the ear. Often, however, these sensations are caused by earwax accumulating the ear.

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Do you feel your ear clogged?

Do you have the sensation of a clogged ear or a foreign object in your ear? Come test your hearing at one of our Miracle-ear centers near you.

Worm in ear and aural myiasis

Myiases are forms of parasitosis that are distinguished by the formation of larvae inside the body and can affect both humans and other mammalian species. Aural myiasis involves infestation of the external ear and/or middle ear by maggots (the larval stage of flies). Myiasis is a rather rare pathology, it is found in tropical areas and in people who, for various reasons, have little or no personal hygiene.

Although aural myiasis is a self-limiting disease, it can be associated with fatal complications like penetration within the central nervous system. In order for a diagnosis to be made, it is necessary to consult your doctor when the following occur:

  • itching, accompanied by pain and a sensation of movement in the ear;
  • pus discharge, with bad smell.
Girl with a bug in ear

Prevention is key

Never underestimate the importance of ear care, your hearing might depend on it.

Treatment: How to remove a bug from your ear

If a fly, moth, ant or other insect has gotten into your ear, firstly try to keep calm. Try to remove it yourself, but if you cannot remove it gently, contact an ENT specialist. Under no circumstances should you try to remove it by introducing tweezers or the like into the ear. The risk of injury is severe.

Sometimes it is possible to remove a bug from the ear at home. The important thing is to remain still and calm. First, never use Q-tips or instruments that put pressure by pressing into the ear. As this will push the insect deeper into the ear canal and may cause further damage.

The best option would be for the bug to go away on its own, one thing you can try is to shine a light 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 it does not go away on its own, to remove a bug from the ear, try following these steps:

  1. Ask someone to look inside the ear canal by shining a flashlight or helping with a magnifying glass. This way, you can identify the type of bug and figure out its location.
  2. Get into a comfortable position. To prepare for the extraction, you need to get comfortable. Then sit somewhere with your head tilted to one side so that you or a friend can have easy access to the ear.
  3. Move the ear. This technique uses gravity to get rid of the bug. Tilt your head with the affected ear downward and tug the ear a little. Grasp the cartilage area and move it a little. If the bug has not penetrated deeply, it may fall off on its own.
  4. Flush the ear with warm water using a dropper or bulb syringe. Keep your head tilted and dilate the ear canal by pulling on the pinna (the outer most part of the ear). Let a steady stream of warm water flow into the ear, and tilt your head to the other side to drain it Do not proceed with this irrigation if you fear that the eardrum is injured, otherwise you may make the situation worse.

Even if a bug in the ear is removed at home, you should still consult and see a doctor. Sometimes, part of the bug will be removed, but not the entire thing. Do not hesitate to see a specialist if the insect has bitten or scratched the eardrum and if you experience some of the symptoms listed above, like ear pain or bloody drainage.

To avoid ear bugs, you can keep your sleeping place clean. Or, in the case of camping, you may want to close the tent when you are inside but also when you go away and use insect spray.

Frequently asked questions on bug in ears

Insects that might get in your ear are:

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

An ear-penetrated bug will likely die quickly. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, it may remain alive for several days, causing discomfort and noise in the ear.

A dead bug should not be left in the ear, as it could cause an ear disease such as ear inflammation. It is recommended to try to remove it as soon as possible and look for medical help when needed.

As mentioned earlier, bugs that enter the ear usually die quickly. For this reason, they are very unlikely to lay eggs in the ear canal.

Mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide up to 30 meters away. Since we exhale carbon dioxide through our nose and mouth, mosquitoes are attracted to our heads. And they circle us, making it easy for these insects to fly by our heads, buzzing during sleep. 
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Check your hearing with Miracle-Ear

Are you experiencing hearing loss while or after having an insect in your ear? Book an appointment at your nearest Miracle-Ear center.

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