Hearing management

Updated 29 November 2017

The strangest things found in people's ears

Doctors have found some very weird things in patients' ears. We look at 7 strange things found in human ears . . .


There's an old saying that goes: "One should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear."

However, judging by the weird things doctors have found in people's ears – whether placed there by themselves or not – we can all agree that this advice isn't taken seriously enough.

Here are 7 strange things found in the human ear:

1. A 2.6 cm cockroach

An Australian man from Darwin was forced to seek medical attention after a cockroach delved into his right ear while he was sleeping, refusing to come out! According to Oddee, the man was made aware of the unwanted creature by a sharp pain in his ear that woke him up.

It got increasingly worse, so he tried to suck the insect out with a vacuum cleaner. When this didn't work, the man decided to see a doctor, who thinking it was a small object, initially put olive oil in the ear which only worsened the problem.

The cockroach simply crept deeper into the ear, forcing the doctor to eventually pull the insect out using forceps. Both doctor and patient were astonished to see that the roach was 2.6 cm long.

Read: What is hearing loss?

2. A tooth

A doctor at the Clear Ear Clinic, a clinic in London dedicated to removing built-up ear wax, once had to remove a tooth from a little girl's ear.

Upon questioning, the girl said she "wanted to keep it in the safest place for the tooth fairy".

3. A matchstick

Health24's resident doctor, Dr. Owen Wiese, who has worked in both public and private health care, has had to pull his own share of foreign objects from people's ears.

On more than one occasion, he has found a matchstick in a patients ear:"It is not only children putting things in their ears, adults do too. Often to relieve an itch, they will use matches. The head of the match often breaks off and gets lodged in the ear."

Dr. Wiese states that "people forget the ear is a 'self-cleaning' organ." 

"Specialised cells ensure the ear cleans itself (the canal) from the inside out. If these cells are irritated by foreign bodies, more wax is produced and this can lead to blockage. When scratched, the wax often gets impacted deeper in the ear and can be problematic to remove." 

"If there are any foreign bodies, people should not attempt to take it out themselves as this may push the object in deeper and can even cause damage to the ear drum and may lead to hearing loss," Dr. Wiese said.

4. Barbie shoe

The blogger Cafemom claims that friends of hers with a preschool child – who apparently had a tumour in his ear near his brain – were told that it might be a fast-growing form of cancer which could've spread to their son's brain. However, doctors discovered that it was actually a pink Barbie shoe!

The object had been in the boy's ear for quite a while, and tissue had started growing around it, making it look like a cancerous tumour.

5. 57 maggots

A 92-year-old granny with Alzheimer's from the US was reportedly found with 57 maggots wriggling in her ear. According to Medical Daily, the family of the old lady was called into the hospital of the retirement home where she lives, after nursing staff noticed she kept scratching and pulling her ear.

She was taken to hospital, and upon inspection a maggot was found crawling out of her ear. Doctors believe a fly had crawled into the woman's ear and laid eggs, which then hatched. She had an enlarged ear canal from surgery performed decades earlier, which regularly got infected. 

Doctors videotaped the woman’s infestation before surgery to remove the maggots was performed. Her family sued the home for negligence and emotional distress.

Read: Treating hearing loss

6. A dandelion

A young girl from Beijing in China reportedly had a dandelion growing in her ear!

Oddee reported the parents of the girl took her to the doctor, after having seen something growing in her ear. Doctor's found a "fully-formed dandelion" about 2 cm long upon examining her.

It filled the whole ear canal, but the doctors said the removal process took just moments.

Read: Preventing hearing loss

7. A cricket

An unidentified man, believed to be from India, found that the discomfort he felt in his ear was triggered by a 7.6 cm live cricket inside his ear canal, Medical Daily reported.

The man felt discomfort in his ear canal and ear drum. Doctors carefully removed the Indian house cricket with tiny tweezers, pinching the bug and pulling it out of the ear.

Have you ever found anything strange in your ear? Let us know in the comments.

Read More:

Spotting hearing problems in infancy may boost reading skills in deaf teens

1.1 billion youths risk hearing loss because of loud music

Can deaf people 'hear' voices?

Image: Woman with an itchy ear from Shutterstock


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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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