Ear & Balance

A live insect in the ear!

February 1, 2020
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Ms A, a 15 year old lady, presented to my clinic looking distressed. She woke up in the morning with a feeling of “something moving” in her right ear. She tried digging her ear with an ear pick but that caused pain and more discomfort. She visited a GP who had a look in her ear and told her the unfortunate news that she has a live insect in her right ear canal. Without the appropriate instruments, her GP only managed to remove a small part of the insect.

When I saw her, a live insect can be seen moving in her right ear canal. There was some excoriation on the front part of her ear canal, possibly from the struggling insect or from her ear digging. The insect was removed in its entirety with an ear forceps under endoscopic guidance.



A live insect was seen in Ms A’s right ear canal on endoscopy





While it may be surprising to many, insects crawling or flying into the ear does happen. It occurs usually while the person is sleeping or when the person is engaged in an outdoor activity (e.g. during camping).


The first thing that you should do if you suspect that you have an insect in your ear is to drown the insect with baby oil, mineral oil or olive oil. Having a live insect struggling to get out of your ear canal is painful and highly uncomfortable! Never attempt to dig the insect out with a cotton bud or ear pick as this may push the insect deeper, agitate the insect and cause it to try to burrow its way out of your ear canal or injure your ear canal or eardrum.


Once you’ve drowned the insect, you should head to an ENT clinic or a GP with the right instruments and skill to remove the insect safely. There is no sure way of preventing an insect from going into your ears. Most of the time it is just bad luck. However, keeping your home clean and using an insect repellant when outdoors or camping may help!


Best wishes,


Dr Gan Eng Cern


ENT Specialist Singapore

    When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

    • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
    • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

    Dr Gan Eng Cern

    Dr Gan Eng Cern is a distinguished ENT doctor with fellowship training. In addition to his clinical practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist in Singapore, Dr. Gan has contributed to the academic field as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is recognised for his extensive research work, with numerous contributions to reputable international ENT journals. Dr Gan is also highly sought after as a speaker and has shared his surgical knowledge as a surgical dissection teacher at various prominent ENT conferences and courses.


    • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist (Expat Living Singapore)
    • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
    • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
    • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
    • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical paper)
    • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health, Singapore)
    • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award


    • MBBS – Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
    • MRCS (Edin) – Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    • MMed (ORL) – Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
    • FAMS – Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore

    Why Choose Dr Gan Eng Cern


    Reliable & Reputable ENT Expert

    Experienced and patient ENT Specialist who has your best interests at heart. We aim to provide you with accessible and specialized care for any ENT condition in a comfortable setting.


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