ZocdocAnswersDo I have a bug stuck deep in my ear canal?

Question

Do I have a bug stuck deep in my ear canal?

I believe I have a bug in my ear. I was sleeping, woke up feeling like something was moving in my ear. My husband took a look, didn't see anything. After googling, I had him put mineral oil in my ear, and sure enough, whatever it is started moving fast like it was drowning. It has not come out though...i even flushed my ear, and nothing. Today, I don't feel any movement at all, but my ear feels clogged, either from the oil/water or from whatever is inside it. What should I do? If it is indeed a bug and its now dead, will it come out? Or is this something I need to go to the ER for?

Answer

Thanks for your question. This is usually something that can be treated without needing to go to an emergency department, but that is always a safe bet if you are concerned. I would recommend seeing an Ear nose and throat surgeon. First, your description of something moving in your ear seems to be consistent with a small bug climbing into your ear. These can range from cockroaches to spiders to other, less disgusting, bugs. The mineral oil is appropriate in most cases, as this can help to kill whatever is inside so that it doesn't cause more problems. Unfortunately, flushing the ear with water is not such a good idea because it can cause the skin in the ear to break down and become infected. Furthermore, it usually leads to some degradation of whatever bug is left inside your ear. Together, the two can be quite problematic and require medical attention. While the emergency department is likely not necessary unless you have a fever, chills, hearing loss, loss of balance, or other concerning symptoms, it is always the right thing to do if you are worried. Instead, an Ear nose and throat surgeon (AKA otolaryngologist AKA head and neck surgeon) would likely be best positioned to help. Please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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