Imagine that one day, you begin hearing a rustling and whooshing in your ear. Thinking it must be water or crackling ear wax, you make a trip to the doctor in order to have it checked out. The doctor looks in your ear and finds … a spider! Not just any spider — because it can’t be that simple — a highly venomous brown recluse.
On Thursday, KSHB news reported on just such a story, horrifying Americans across the country.
When Susie Torres went to the doctor to have her left ear probed, she wasn’t sure what the problem was. According to Torres, during the examination, “[The medical assistant] ran out and said, ‘I’m gonna go get a couple more people,’ and she said, ‘I think you have an insect in there.'”
Torres notes that she “didn’t panic,” and that after the removal procedure, the doctor told her that the spider was a brown recluse.
“[I] never thought that they would crawl in your ear or any part of your body,” Torres told KSHB, adding that the medical team told her that she was lucky to have avoided being bitten by the spider.
Torres says that she slept with cotton balls in her ears the following night as she didn’t have any earplugs at the ready.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms from a brown recluse bite include aches, chills, and a fever. Such a bite will typically heal on its own.
Poison Control notes that the venom from the spider can cause necrosis:
Over the course of a few days, the venom destroys the surrounding tissues. The wound gets larger, more painful, and darker in color. Necrosis or tissue death is identified when the tissue becomes black in color and forms a crust that eventually falls off. The venom can penetrate deeper in the tissues, sometimes affecting the fat and muscles. Often, the bite of a brown recluse spider leaves a crater-like scar after it has healed completely.
This tissue damage can sometimes lead to infection, which can “possibly become life-threatening.” However, such life-threatening infections are supremely rare.
Susie Torres isn’t the only person who’s had to deal with an insect or arachnid in her ear. In 2016, it was reported that doctors in Deesa, India, were thrown a curveball when a 12-year-old girl named Shreya Darji came in with ants in her ear canal, reports IFLScience.
After an initial extraction, the ants continued to proliferate, requiring further removal efforts.
The Times of India quotes Dr. Jawahar Talsania, one of the doctors who worked on the continued extraction:
The girl’s case is very challenging for me, as I have never seen such a case, nor found it in medical history. The big ants must be biting her, but the girl did not even feel pain inside her ears. Besides, there was no damage inside her ear.
Several months later, reports The Daily Mail, Darji’s disturbing insect trauma came to an end, and she is now free of head ants.