A woman was rushed to the hospital with a horrifying case of a cockroach stuck in her ear. It took nine days before doctors completely extracted the insect's carcass.
Katie Holley wrote a blog detailing her ordeal with a palmetto bug, a type of cockroach predominant in Florida. Despite efforts to regularly exterminate house pests, Katie said a cockroach managed to get inside her ear while she was sleeping.
"Last month, in the middle of the night, I woke up startled. It felt like someone had placed a chip of ice in my left earhole — but it was something way worse," Katie wrote.
She managed to pull what appeared to be pieces of an insect's leg in a cotton swab. Terrified that the cockroach might reach her brain, Katie and her husband proceeded to the hospital's emergency department.
The doctor then extracted pieces of the cockroach's body that were lodged in Katie's ear canal. A few days after her trip to the hospital, she still experienced soreness and loss of hearing. It was only when an ENT specialist revealed that the head, antennae, and other pieces of the cockroach's carcass were still left in the ear canal nine days after the incident.
Icky Creatures In Your Body
A small study published 2006 in the South African Medical Journal reported that doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town removed 24 insects from the patients' ears. The insects included three beetles, eight flies, 10 German cockroaches, an assassin bug, a tick, and a moth.
A similar study published 1985 in the New England Journal of Medicine cited another case where a roach in one of the patient's ears went into "a convulsive rate of speed" when sprayed with numbing agent lidocaine. Entomologist Coby Schal of North Carolina State University said it is not unusual to have a cockroach in the ear.
"Roaches are searching for food everywhere, and earwax might be appealing to them," Schal said.
Schal explained that the earwax is a haven for bacteria that produce volatile fatty acids. He added that the nose can also be an ideal go-to place for cockroaches because nasal secretion could be an appealing food source. Roaches can go farther into the sinuses between the eyes and into the cheekbones.
The NIH recommends pouring mineral, olive, or baby oil into the ear to suffocate the insect. It is also best to consult a doctor to ensure there are no pieces of an insect left behind that can cause infections.