After enduring four frustrating days and nights, a woman in Taiwan reached her breaking point. The constant rustling noises and strange clicks inside her left ear had become unbearable, as if they were emanating from deep within her bones. An alarming sensation of movement made her suspect that something had taken up residence in her ear canal. She was not mistaken. Seeking relief, she sought help from an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) clinic, where doctors made a shocking discovery—a tiny spider with beady eyes was scuttling around inside her ear. The sight of its discarded exoskeleton provided evidence that the spider had sought refuge in her ear to shed its outer layer during a growth spurt, much to the woman’s utter displeasure.
The Uncomfortable Reality
According to medical staff at the Tainan Municipal Hospital in Taiwan, the woman, who was 64 years old, reported no pain. Remarkably, the spider measured a mere 2-3 millimeters (0.1 inches). Nonetheless, the constant presence of such an unwelcome visitor inside her ear would have undoubtedly tested her patience. Dr. David Kasle, a physician at ENT Sinus and Allergy of South Florida, explains the intensity of the experience, stating, “There’s an extremely sensitive, thin layer of skin that lines the ear canal called the external auditory canal.” This canal, lined with delicate hairs and sweat glands, leads to an overwhelming sensation of tickling, as the crawling movements become nearly unbearable.
Damaged Ears and the Intruders Within
ENT specialists often encounter cases where insects have become lodged inside a patient’s ear. Surprisingly, most damage to the ear canal or eardrum occurs as a result of the individual’s attempt to remove the intruder, rather than from the presence of the insect itself. Fortunately for this woman, her eardrum remained intact, and she did not suffer any hearing loss. As soon as the doctors skillfully extracted the spider and its molted exoskeleton from her ear using a suction tube, her symptoms quickly dissipated. However, not all individuals are so fortunate. The retelling of this incident may leave many feeling horrified, but imagine the experience of a 9-year-old boy who had a bloodthirsty tick affix itself to his eardrum in 2019. Equally disturbing is the story of a Florida woman who discovered a cockroach in her ear and had to endure a grueling nine-day ordeal to remove it. Compared to these cases, the spider’s seemingly innocuous exploration appears almost benign.
The tale of the woman from Taiwan serves as a chilling reminder of the unexpected, yet all too real, encounters we can have with nature. The sensitive nature of the ear canal amplifies the discomfort caused by the presence of an unwanted guest, such as a spider. While this particular incident ended with minimal harm, it is essential to recognize the potential consequences of attempts to expel intruders from the ear, as these actions can lead to serious damage. So, as we go about our daily lives, let us remain vigilant, prepared to confront the uninvited visitors that nature may send our way—and hope that such encounters are rare and fleeting.