Hearing management

27 August 2019

What a woman believed was just water in her ear turned out to be a venomous spider

Doctors removed a brown recluse spider from a woman's ear after she thought the 'swishing' sounds she heard was just water trapped in her ear canal.

It is not uncommon for water to be lodged in the ear. Whether it's caused by swimming or taking a shower, it can often lead to discomfort and an uncomfortable "swishing" sound.

There can, however, be other more sinister causes for this phenomenon, as a woman from Missouri in the USA recently found out.  

Highly venomous

Susie Torres told KSHB Kansas City that she began to worry when the noise in her ear wouldn't go away. When she went to the doctor, the medical assistant was shocked to find a brown recluse spider in her ear.

The brown recluse spider is highly venomous and just one bite can cause fever, chills, increased sweating and nausea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a blister will develop at the site of a bite and that the venom can destroy the surrounding skin tissue.

Fortunately, the recluse was removed from Torres' ear without it biting her. Still spooked, she put some cotton balls in her ear that night, because she didn't have any ear plugs.

Finding foreign objects in the ear is not uncommon. In fact, there are many stories about the strangest things found in people's ears. For example, a young boy from Connecticut felt something odd in his ear and was worried about the persistent buzzing – which turned out to be a tick living in his eardrum.

A flower in her ear

A blogger reported that what doctors thought was a tumour in a friend's son's brain was in fact a pink Barbie shoe. Because the foreign object had been trapped inside the ear for so long, tissue had grown around it.

Similarly, a young girl from Beijing, China, had a flower growing in her ear. Her parents took her to the doctor when they found something was growing in her ear. It turned out to be a 2cm long dandelion which completely filled her ear canal. 

On a lighter note, some people suffer from what is referred to as earworms, and as horrible as it might sound, these aren't actual worms. If a catchy tune gets "stuck" in your head, it is referred to as an earworm, according to the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. 

If you suspect you have something stuck in your ear, you can try to remove the object at home, or contact a medical professional if you cannot safely remove the object yourself. 

Image credit: iStock


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Hearing Expert

Minette Lister graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Pathology (Audiology) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville in 2015. Thereafter, she completed her compulsory year of community service at Phoenix Assessment and Therapy Centre in Durban. In 2017, Minette started working for Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. She is passionate about working with children and adults to diagnose and manage hearing loss using state of the art technology. Minette offers hearing screening programmes for newborn and high-risk babies, as well as school-aged children, in order to decrease the incidence of late or unidentified hearing loss.

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