Real-life horror story: Doctors find spider in woman’s ear


According to a New England Journal of Medicine case study, the woman could feel and hear the spider crawling in her ear.

Just in time for Halloween, the New England Journal of Medicine recently published a case study that is sure to keep all arachnophobes up at night. The study tells the frightening tale of a woman who had a spider inside her ear.

The 64-year-old woman was seen by doctors at a specialist clinic in Taiwan after experiencing “abnormal sounds” in her left ear for four days, the study says. 

“On the day of symptom onset, she had awoken to the feeling of a creature moving inside her left ear,” the study’s authors wrote. “Subsequent incessant beating, clicking, and rustling sounds had led to insomnia.”

When doctors examined the woman, they discovered a spider crawling in her ear canal, as well as its molted exoskeleton, the study says. They removed the spider and exoskeleton using a suction tube, and her symptoms subsided. 

“She didn’t feel pain because the spider was very small. It’s just about 2 to 3 millimeters,” Dr. Tengchin Wang, a co-author of the case study, told NBC News. 

Far from comforting those of us unsettled by this story, Wang told the network that he’s seen “ants, moths, cockroaches, and mosquitoes inside people’s ears before.”

In fact, a 2019 study found that insects account for 14 to 18 percent of foreign bodies found in people’s ear canals. 

According to NBC News, American doctors said that finding insects in a patient’s ear is rare, but not unprecedented.

Dr. David Kasle, a physician at ENT Sinus and Allergy of South Florida, told the network that most ear, nose, and throat specialists find “tens, if not more, of bugs or some sort of arthropod” in people’s ears over the course of their career. 

In a similar New England Journal of Medicine case study co-written by Kasle in 2019, a tick attacked the inside of a 9-year-old Connecticut boy’s ear. That same year, a venomous spider was found inside the ear of a Missouri woman.