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What happens if a fly goes in your ear?

Having a fly go into your ear can be an alarming and uncomfortable experience. While it’s rare, some flies are attracted to the dark, moist environment inside the ear canal. Luckily, a fly in the ear is generally not dangerous and can usually be removed easily at home. However, it’s important to act quickly to get the fly out before it dies inside the ear or causes injury.

What attracts flies to ears?

Flies are attracted to moisture, warmth, and dark places to rest. The ear canal provides all three of these things which is why it can be an appealing environment for flies. Some additional reasons flies may enter the ear include:

  • Searching for food sources – Ear wax and fluid in the ear canal may attract flies looking for food.
  • Looking for shelter – The inner ear is warm and protected from weather conditions.
  • Chasing away other flies – If another fly is in the ear, additional flies may go inside to chase it out of their territory.
  • Accidental entry – A fly buzzing around the head may accidentally fly directly into the ear.

What species of fly enters ears?

Many different fly species have been known to enter human ears incidentally including:

  • House flies – The most common fly found indoors.
  • Bottle flies – Drawn to trash and decaying materials.
  • Fruit flies – Attracted to ripened fruits and vegetables.
  • Drain flies – Live in drains and moist environments.
  • Flesh flies – Feed on decaying organic material.

Fly species that are most likely to infest homes such as house flies and bottle flies are probably the culprits in most cases of flies entering ears. Any fly that gets inside the home has the potential to find its way into the ear canal accidentally.

Can a fly hurt you if it’s inside your ear?

A fly that makes its way into the ear canal rarely causes any serious damage or health risks. However, having a fly inside the ear can be uncomfortable, itchy, and even painful. Some potential symptoms and side effects include:

  • Buzzing or scratching sensation in the ear as the fly moves around.
  • Discomfort or itching from the fly’s legs touching the sensitive skin.
  • Extra ear wax production as the ear tries to flush out the foreign object.
  • Hearing loss or dampened sounds in the affected ear.
  • Dizziness or loss of balance if the fly interferes with the inner ear.
  • Earache pain from irritation and inflammation.
  • Possible ear infection if the fly dies inside the ear.

In very rare cases, a fly caught in the ear could potentially puncture the eardrum or get stuck deep in the ear canal where it’s difficult to remove. Seeking prompt medical treatment is advised if you suspect the fly has caused injury or become firmly lodged inside.

Can you feel the fly moving around in your ear?

Most people are able to feel the fly moving around inside their ear. The wings, legs, and body of the fly lightly touching the skin cause tickling, fluttering sensations. You may hear faint buzzing noises as the fly’s wings vibrate. The movement sensations tend to come and go in intervals as the fly explores different areas of the ear canal.

Some people report being able to hear the fly buzzing more loudly inside their head. The echo chamber effect of having the fly in your ear makes the noises louder and more pronounced than normal. Any scratching or squirming as the fly tries to find its way out will also be audible.

The sensitivity of your ear canal skin and your hearing determines if you’ll feel the fly at all. Wax build up and damage to the inner ear from loud noises may make it more difficult to detect the fly’s presence. Seeking medical advice is recommended if you suspect a fly is in your ear but can’t feel anything.

Will the fly die if it stays in your ear?

If a fly gets stuck in the ear canal for an extended period, it will eventually die from starvation or dehydration. A fly’s average lifespan is only around 30 days, and it will be unable to survive more than a day or two trapped inside the ear without access to food and water.

You may be able to hear the fly buzzing around less and less as it gets weaker. Any liquid leaking from the fly’s crushed body may feel like warm fluid in the ear. The fly carcass will begin to decay, which can lead to infection if it is not removed.

Seeking prompt medical treatment is advised if a fly is trapped in the ear over 24 hours. Leaving a dead fly in the ear increases the risks of painful inflammation and dangerous bacterial or fungal ear infections developing.

What should you do if a fly goes in your ear?

Here are some tips for what to do if a fly enters your ear:

  1. Stay calm – While unsettling, try not to panic as this could cause the fly to burrow deeper.
  2. Do not poke at the ear – Inserting objects into the ear could push the fly further in or cause damage.
  3. Fill the ear with warm olive or mineral oil – This can help flush out and suffocate the fly.
  4. Tilt the head to drain the oil – Gravity can help pull debris and the fly out.
  5. Try capturing the fly – If visible, gently swat it with a towel or trap it against the ear.
  6. See a doctor if needed – If the fly is not easily removed or symptoms persist, seek medical assistance.

Never try to dig a fly out of the ear with a cotton swab or other tool. This risks rupturing the eardrum and forcing the fly deeper into the ear canal rather than removing it.

Can you prevent flies from going in your ears?

It’s difficult to completely prevent flies from accidentally entering the ears. However, the following tips can help make it less likely:

  • Use window and door screens – Keep flies from getting inside in the first place.
  • Don’t leave food and trash exposed – Store away sources flies are attracted to.
  • Cover openings when outside – Wear hats or headscarves to protect ears.
  • Use fly repellents – Citronella oil or DEET can deter some fly activity.
  • Keep ears dry – Flies are less likely to enter clean, dry ear canals.
  • Clean with vinegar – Wipe ears with diluted vinegar to remove wax and debris.
  • Apply petroleum jelly – Coating the outer ears can make them less inviting to flies.

Practicing good hygiene and sanitation to minimize the overall fly population around your home is also recommended for reducing the chances one will end up in your ear.

Can a doctor easily remove the fly?

In most cases, a doctor can easily and successfully remove a fly from the ear canal. Some methods they may use include:

  • Ear exam with microscope – Allows visual location of fly.
  • Saline flush – Squirts water in ear to wash out fly.
  • Suction – Specialized medical devices can suck out fly.
  • Alligator forceps – Tiny tools can grasp the fly.
  • Adhesive oil – Sticky substances trap the fly for removal.

If the fly is alive and towards the outer ear canal, doctors can typically extract it whole. A dead, crushed fly may come out in pieces when flushed or suctioned. Seeking professional help within 24 hours improves the chances of complete, painless fly removal.

When should you go to the doctor for a fly in the ear?

Visiting a doctor right away is recommended if:

  • The fly remains in the ear over 24 hours
  • Home remedies were not successful removing it
  • You experience worrisome hearing changes or loss
  • Pain, dizziness, ringing, or other concerning symptoms develop
  • Signs of injury or infection from the fly are present
  • Numbness, bleeding or pus is occurring in the ear

Leaving a fly in the ear for too long can allow severe irritation, tissue damage, and dangerous infections to develop. Only try home removal methods for a few hours before seeking professional medical care if the fly persists.

Can you prevent an ear infection after fly removal?

After a fly is removed from the ear, there are steps you can take to prevent a resulting ear infection:

  • Use antibiotic eardrops as prescribed by your doctor to prevent bacterial infection.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
  • Avoid scratching or touching the ear to prevent wound irritation or re-entry of debris.
  • Wear earplugs when bathing or showering to keep water out.
  • Follow up with your doctor as recommended to monitor for signs of infection.
  • Avoid inserting cotton swabs or other objects into the irritated ear canal.

Keeping the ear clean and dry while avoiding additional trauma will help prevent painful complications. Seek prompt medical treatment if you experience increased swelling, pus, or loss of hearing.

Can you still hear normally after the fly is removed?

In most instances, hearing ability returns to normal once the fly has been fully removed from the ear canal. However, it’s possible for some residual effects to remain, including:

  • Temporary muffled hearing from irritation or fluid buildup.
  • Lingering pain or itching causing distraction and difficulty hearing.
  • Buzzing or ringing ears from damaged eardrum or inner ear cells.
  • Permanent hearing loss if the fly or removal harmed the eardrum.

Generally, the quicker the fly is removed, the less likelihood of lasting hearing issues. Seek emergency care for hearing loss, persistent noises in the ear, or difficulty understanding speech. Monitoring hearing after fly removal is advised.

When should you seek emergency care for a fly in the ear?

You should go to urgent care or the emergency room if:

  • The fly has been in the ear for over 48 hours
  • You experience sudden hearing loss or deafness in the affected ear
  • You develop signs of a serious ear infection like high fever, stiff neck, or vision issues
  • There is uncontrollable bleeding or fluid leaking from the ear
  • You develop serious dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance
  • Numbness, tingling, or facial muscle weakness occurs

Rare, severe complications from an ear fly require immediate medical treatment to prevent permanent damage. Do not hesitate to seek emergency care if you have concerning symptoms or can’t remove the fly after 2 days.

Can you recover completely after getting a fly removed from your ear?

Most people recover completely after having a fly taken out of their ear. Once the fly is extracted, pain and other symptoms typically improve within a few days. Eardrops, pain medication, and resting the ear can help speed healing.

It may take up to a few weeks for the ear canal irritation and injury to fully resolve. Avoiding water entry into the ear during bathing and showering is recommended during recovery. The eardrum usually heals itself within 2 months if the fly did not cause permanent perforation.

In rare cases, the fly may have damaged the inner ear or ear canal tissues extensively, leading to chronic issues. These could potentially include ongoing pain, ear infections, hearing loss, ringing, vertigo, or balance problems. If symptoms remain after a couple months, visit an ear, nose and throat specialist for evaluation.

Can you help prevent someone else’s ear from getting infested?

You may be able to help prevent a fly from entering someone else’s ear by:

  • Keeping flies away from them – Use screens, make them wear hats, etc.
  • Not leaving trash exposed – Store waste in sealed bins.
  • Cleaning with vinegar – Wipe outer ears routinely with diluted vinegar.
  • Having them wear earplugs – When outdoors around flies or sleeping.
  • Applying petroleum jelly – Coat outer ear with thin layer to repel flies.
  • Advising against swatting – Batting at flies near ears risks pushing them in.
  • Treating nearby flies – Use traps, bait, or spray to reduce fly population.
  • Practicing good sanitation – Eliminate breeding grounds to control fly numbers.

Reducing fly access, keeping ears clean, and not agitating flies already swarming the head can all make accidental ear entry less likely. Educate children and the elderly on the risks as they may be less cautious around flies.


While having a fly enter your ear can be an unsettling experience, prompt removal is possible in most cases with home treatment or medical care. Never ignore symptoms or wait longer than 1-2 days before seeking professional help. Early extraction improves the chances of avoiding complications or lasting damage. Be sure to take preventative measures such as keeping flies away, wearing ear protection, and maintaining cleanliness to reduce the odds of dealing with this issue in the first place.