A man’s ear itching problem led doctors to find mites in his ear.
The 70-year-old man in Taiwan reported feeling a sense of fullness in his ear without any hearing lost or discharge.
Doctors discovered mite eggs and mites crawling in his ear canal. The medical report identified the insects as house-dust mites known as Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus.
Dr. Ian Stoper, the director of ontology at the New York Head and Neck Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital, classified the rare mite condition as otoacariasis.
"It's much more common to see a cockroach in the ear," Storper said. He added that in many of those cases, cockroaches are already dead in their ear. However, Dr. Stoper said that he’s only seen two cases involving mites.
Dr. Stoper reported that insects become stuck in the ear as a result of their inability to walk backward. When the insects are alive, patient symptoms include hearing buzzing sounds in addition to pain.
Doctors recorded a video of the Taiwanese man’s ear showing swollen ear tissue and debris in his ear canal.
Dr. Richard Nelson, vice chair of emergency medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said that after seeing cases of mosquitos, gnats, and other insects in a patient’s ear he finds it is easier to tell them after the insects have been removed.
He said that in one particular case, a woman panicked when she found out a cockroach was in her ear before a removal procedure.
"She was really freaked out," Nelson said. "Now, I just say, I think I see the problem, I'm going to put some stuff in your ear," and tell them about it after the cockroach is out.”
Dr. Nelson reported that some patients, however, surprisingly remain calm during the diagnosis. One of his patients admitted that he’s had a cockroach in his ear before.
"Patients with cockroaches in their ear always show up at 2 a.m. — they wake up with sudden onset of ear pain," he said. He mentioned that most of the late night cases involved bugs crawling in their ears while sleeping.
Treatments for the condition involve irrigating the ear with oil and alcohol. Occasionally doctors will use an anesthetic as well as tiny forceps to remove a critter.
"It's very important to pull out the whole thing," Storper said. "If you leave legs, you can get a bacterial infection. They're dirty, they've been crawling everywhere," he said.
The Taiwanese man was given eardrops containing antifungal and antibacterial agents as well as anti-inflammatory medicine. Doctors reported that his symptoms went away two days later.