A Missouri woman went to the doctor with what she thought was water in her ear, and left with a terrible, eight-legged surprise diagnosis.
Doctors found that a brown recluse spider — a poisonous arachnid — had actually lodged itself in Susie Torres’ ear, likely while she was sleeping.
“Gross,” she told WDAF-TV. “Why, where, what and how?”
Torres says she was horrified to learn that she’d been walking around with the spider in her ear.
“I woke up Tuesday hearing a bunch of swooshing and water in my left ear. It was like when you went swimming and you have all of that water in your ear,” she said.
Torres decided to pay a visit to her doctor to resolve her water ear, but found her condition was a bit more serious than she originally thought.
“(The medical assistant) ran out and said, ‘I’m going to get a couple more people.’ She then said, ‘I think you have an insect in there,'” Torres recounted.
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“They had a few tools and worked their magic and got it out,” Torres told KSHB.
Torres says she’ll be sleeping with cotton balls in her ears from now on, just to make sure that she doesn’t get any more unwelcome visitors.
“I went and put some cotton balls in my ears last night. I’m shaking off my clothes, and I don’t put my purse on the floor. I’m a little more cautious,” she said.
KSHB reports that the spider didn’t end up biting her, but a nip from a recluse could cause a lot of damage.
HealthLinkBC says that symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include reddened, blistered skin, mild to intense pain and itching, an open sore, fever and chills, a full-body skin rash, nausea or vomiting and joint pain.
In the event of a bite, HealthLinkBC recommends applying a cool, wet cloth to the area, avoiding applying a tourniquet and getting to a doctor if severe symptoms occur.
The brown-coloured spiders typically grow to between six and 20 millimetres in size, or approximately the size of a small coin.
They are typically found in southern regions of the United States in hot, dry areas — not in people’s ears.