Are Bugs Crawling In Your Ears While You Sleep?

Are Bugs Crawling In Your Ears While You Sleep?

You hear the horror stories all the time -- creepy crawlies that find their way into people's ears.

There were even reports last week of a 12-year-old Colorado boy who woke up crying because a moth had crawled into his ear. He had to go to the hospital emergency room, where doctors tried to drown the moth to kill it, to no avail. They ended up removing the insect with tweezers -- where it came out alive, 9News reported.

But why are the nooks and crannies in our faces so attractive to bugs, anyway?

According to Philip Koehler, Ph.D., an entomology professor at the University of Florida, it's likely because they're seeking shelter.

"The insects are probably entering the canal as harborage, for heat, and/or for moisture," Koehler told The Huffington Post in an email.

A small 2006 study in the South African Medical Journal tried to examine what sorts of bugs most commonly crawl into people's ears. From 24 bug specimens that were retained from people's ears, they found that 10 of them were cockroaches and three were beetles, with the rest being some other sort of insect.

And how do you get them out?

There's no one-size-fits-all method for removing bugs from people's ears. In one 1989 letter to the editor, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors from the State University of New York Health Science Center told of how they suctioned a cockroach from the ear canal of a woman with a metal suction tip.

However, if a bug crawls in your ear, you should not try to get it out yourself, said Dr. Benjamin Crane, M.D., an assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

"You can put mineral oil or something in the ear canal to kill the bug, to make it more comfortable for you, but you should then go to an emergency room or to an otolaryngologist's office to get it removed," Crane told The Huffington Post.

Usually, ear-burrowing bugs just provide feelings of discomfort because the ear canal is so sensitive, Crane said, though there's always the risk that they can perforate the ear drum.

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