Skip to Content

How do you know if you have a centipede in your ear?

Discovering that you may have a centipede in your ear can be an alarming and uncomfortable experience. Centipedes entering and becoming lodged in the ear canal is rare, but does occur on occasion. There are some key signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of a centipede in the ear. Being able to recognize these signs is important in determining if medical attention is needed.

What are the symptoms of having a centipede in your ear?

Some of the most common symptoms that may signal a centipede is lodged in the ear include:

– Pain in the affected ear – This may range from mild discomfort to severe, stabbing pain. The pain may come and go.

– Itching sensation in the ear canal.

– Feeling of movement or a “crawling” sensation in the ear. This occurs as the centipede moves its legs and body within the ear canal.

– Visible legs or body of the centipede protruding from the ear. In some cases, portions of the centipede may be visible in the opening of the ear.

– Redness or irritation of the outer ear and ear canal.

– Partial hearing loss or muffled hearing in the affected ear. The centipede can block sound from properly entering the ear.

– Drainage of blood or fluid from the ear. The legs and body of the centipede may scratch the delicate skin of the ear canal, causing bleeding.

– Dizziness or loss of balance. This can occur if the centipede interferes with the inner ear.

– Odd sounds coming from the ear, such as scratching or moving sounds as the centipede moves around.

What causes a centipede to enter the ear?

Centipedes are predators that hunt for small prey such as insects and spiders. They are attracted to dark, damp areas. Some of the ways a centipede may accidentally enter the ear include:

– Crawling into the ear while a person is sleeping, especially if sleeping directly on the ground while camping or spending time outdoors.

– Entering the ears to escape danger, such as being sprayed with insecticide. The ear may be seen as a safe hiding spot.

– Mistaking the ear for a good location to hunt insects or spiders, which may be found around the outer ear or ear canal.

– Accidentally crawling into the ear if a person has centipedes in their home or living space. This is more likely in tropical climates where centipedes are common.

Should you try to remove a centipede from your ear?

If you suspect a centipede has entered your ear, you should not attempt to remove it yourself. There are a few reasons it is unsafe to try to manually take out a centipede:

– The centipede’s legs and body can be firmly lodged in the ear canal. Attempting to grasp and pull out the centipede may injure the delicate inner ear.

– The centipede may respond aggressively if threatened and bite the ear canal in self-defense. Centipede venom can be quite painful.

– Trying to remove the centipede may unintentionally push it further into the ear canal, making surgical removal more difficult.

– Improper tools may scratch or puncture the ear if used to try extracting the centipede. Things like tweezers or cotton swabs should not be inserted into the ear.

– Compacting earwax deeper into the canal while trying to access the centipede can cause impaction and blockage.

Instead, it is vital to seek prompt medical care if a centipede becomes lodged in the ear. Allow a doctor to properly anesthetize the ear and use imaging guidance to safely extract the insect. Never put anything in your ear in an attempt to kill or remove the centipede.

Seeking Medical Treatment

If you experience any symptoms that indicate a possible centipede in the ear, you should seek medical care right away. Here are some key steps:

See your primary care doctor, ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist, or visit urgent care

Your primary doctor can examine your ear and may refer you to an ENT specialist, who can properly diagnose and treat the issue. Urgent care clinics can also evaluate you to determine if a centipede is lodged in the ear. Seek care promptly, as the longer the centipede remains trapped in the ear, the more damage it may potentially cause. Do not wait days or weeks to be seen.

Be prepared to describe your symptoms

Tell the doctor all your symptoms. Details like pain, itching, visible legs protruding from the ear, and crawling sensations are important clues to alert them that an insect may be trapped in your ear canal. Mention how long symptoms have been present.

Answer questions about potential exposure

Your doctor will ask questions to understand if and how a centipede may have entered your ear. Be prepared to share if you live in or traveled recently to a tropical climate, if you’ve been camping or spending time outdoors, or if there are centipedes present in your home. This helps them assess the likelihood that a centipede is the culprit.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for pain relief

The doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help alleviate discomfort until the centipede can be removed. Follow dosage instructions carefully.

Allow examination of the ear

The doctor will use an otoscope (a device that allows visual inspection of the ear canal) to try to view the centipede. This helps confirm the diagnosis. Hold still during the exam and follow instructions to allow proper visualization of the ear.

Discuss treatment options

Based on the severity of symptoms and inspection of the ear, the doctor will discuss recommended treatment options. This may include things like:

– Ear irrigation to try flushing out the centipede
– Manual extraction of the centipede using specialized tools
– Medication instilled in the ear to try forcing the centipede out
– Surgical extraction if the centipede is firmly lodged

Follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan to safely and effectively remove the centipede.

Removing a Centipede from the Ear

If a centipede has entered and become stuck in the ear canal, a doctor will need to carefully extract the insect to avoid potential harm. Here is an overview of how a centipede lodged in the ear is typically removed:

Numbing ear drops may be applied

The doctor may instill ear drops containing a topical anesthetic like lidocaine into the ear canal. This helps numb the area to prevent pain during centipede removal.

Underlying infection may need antibiotic drops

If the ear is inflamed and infected from irritation caused by the centipede, antibiotic ear drops may also be prescribed. Using antibiotics helps resolve infection while the centipede remains in the ear.

Specialized instruments are used to grasp and extract the centipede

The doctor will use tools like alligator forceps, suction, and microscopic instruments to gently grasp and pull the centipede out of the ear, piece by piece if needed. These specialized tools allow precision extraction.

Flushing the ear may push out the centipede

Ear irrigation with a saline solution may be done to try to flush out and dislodge all parts of the centipede. The solution can help kill the insect also.

In severe cases, the ear may need to be surgically opened behind the ear

For centipedes firmly wedged deep in the ear canal, a surgical procedure called a myringotomy may be needed. This involves surgically opening the eardrum to better visualize and access the insect. Local or general anesthesia is used.

Follow up appointments to check for remaining parts of the centipede

Follow up visits with the doctor are needed to carefully examine the ear and ensure no parts of the centipede remain. Repeat flushing, suctioning, or other methods may be required to fully remove all remnants.

Recovering After Centipede Removal

Once a centipede has been fully extracted from the ear, follow your doctor’s instructions to allow proper healing and prevent complications like infection. Here are some important recovery tips:

Take prescribed antibiotic and pain medication

Antibiotics will be prescribed, usually in eardrop form, to prevent bacterial infection. Use pain relievers as recommended to control discomfort.

Apply antibiotic or steroid eardrops

Eardrops may contain antibiotics to prevent infection or steroids like hydrocortisone to reduce swelling and irritation caused by the centipede. Use as directed.

Keep the ear dry

Prevent water from entering the ear when bathing or showering until fully healed. Moisture can slow healing. Use a cotton ball coated in petroleum jelly to protect the ear from water.

Sleep with the affected ear up

This allows drainage to exit the ear and prevents fluid buildup. Avoid sleeping with pressure directly on the ear.

Return for follow up appointments

See your doctor as scheduled to monitor your progress, check for residual inflammation or debris, and ensure the ear is properly healing.

Call your doctor if symptoms like pain or drainage return

Report any worrisome symptoms immediately, as they may indicate infection or remaining pieces of the centipede. Promptly treating complications improves recovery.

Type of Symptom Potential Cause Recommended Action
Severe ear pain Infection or trauma from centipede removal Contact doctor immediately
Redness, swelling around the ear Infection or irritation Call doctor, may indicate infection
Itching, crawling sensation in the ear Possibly remaining parts of centipede See doctor to fully remove insect
Drainage of blood or pus from the ear Infection Seek medical care for antibiotic treatment
Hearing loss, ringing, dizziness Ear trauma, damage from centipede Call doctor to assess for complications

Preventing Future Centipede Infestations

While centipedes entering the ear is extremely uncommon, you can take some general precautions to help deter centipedes and avoid repeat incidents:

Keep centipedes out of your home

– Seal cracks and openings throughout the home so centipedes cannot enter
– Use window and door screens
– Eliminate clutter like piles of wood or rocks around the exterior of the home
– Cut back vegetation touching the home
– Reduce moisture sources like leaky pipes, standing water
– Use pest control measures like traps or insecticides if needed

Carefully check and shake out clothing, linens, towels

Centipedes may crawl into stored clothing, bedding, or towels left on the floor. Shake these items before use.

Wear earplugs while sleeping if you live in tropical climates or while camping

Earplugs can act as a barrier and prevent centipedes from crawling into the ears while sleeping.

Avoid sticking cotton swabs or other objects in your ears

This can accidentally push in centipedes that are near the opening of the ear canal. Never put foreign objects into your ears.

See an ENT to examine ears after swimming in tropical freshwater locations

Centipedes can sometimes enter the ears during swimming in tropical climates. An ENT can painlessly extract them.

Wear a swim cap when swimming in areas that may have centipedes

This can block centipedes from entering the ears during water activities.

Getting a centipede stuck in the ear can be alarming, but seeing a doctor promptly allows safe removal and recovery. Take preventive steps to avoid centipedes around living spaces. Proper medical treatment coupled with at-home care ensures the ear heals fully after centipede extraction.