A medical assistant leans in to take a look inside Susie Torres’ left ear. The patient claims that she has been suffering from earache because she has water trapped in there. But when the assistant locates the real cause of the problem, nothing could have prepared her for what she sees. There’s not a single drop of water evident, after all. Instead, what’s inside the ear makes the nurse turn around and run out of the examination room.
Up until that moment, though, Torres’ symptoms seemed minor. She could even hear sounds inside her ear – snapping and swirling noises similar to those you hear when water gets trapped there. The Kansas City, Missouri, resident had assumed that a recent allergy shot had caused her to hear the whooshing. But, fortunately, she decided to see her doctor just in case.
Torres headed to the doctor after work, in fact, and she felt calm, assuming that her aural affliction wasn’t a serious one. Minor ear infections are relatively common causes for ear complaints, she likely assured herself. But – as we’ve discovered – a medical assistant would panic when she looked inside the woman’s ear. And Torres’ diagnosis was just as shocking.
It seems that this could happen to anyone, too. Perhaps every once in a while, then, you’ll clean your ears and gently remove wax from either side. And when you do this, it’s probably hard to imagine anything else coming out with your cotton swab. But that very scenario has unfolded for many people. In fact, everyday citizens have discovered some pretty surprising things hiding in their ears – sometimes for years.
For instance, the website Ranker reported on one particular unnamed man who had suffered from more than three decades of continual pain and partial deafness in his ear. And doctors could apparently never give him a reason for his nearly life-long ache. Then the medical professionals found the source. As it turned out, the man had a tooth stuck inside his ear. The doctors estimated that it had been there since his teenage years.
The man had no idea how the tooth got there, though. He also didn’t know how he had failed to notice it in his ear canal for so long. And, in a related story, a young boy had also told his parents that he had a tooth stuck in his ear. The parents, of course, thought the boy had made up the story. But three years later, a doctor plucked a pearly white from his ear.
Ranker also reported that another set of parents likely got a huge fright when doctors suspected their little one of having a cancerous growth. Upon further inspection, though, the medical team realized that the child had a Barbie shoe lodged in their ear. In fact, the offending object had sat in the kid’s ear for so long that skin had grown over the top of it – making it look like a tumor.
Mind you, sometimes living things take up residence in people’s ears, too. In the case of one Chinese girl, for example, a dandelion had somehow taken root in her hearing organ. And the fact that the weed had managed to stay alive and grow inside of her ear made it tougher for doctors to safely pluck out the flower.
Teenager Grant Botti also felt an odd sensation inside of his ear in the summer of 2015. So, as he told ABC News 4, he decided to reach inside and pull out whatever it was that was tickling him. Shockingly, though, he grabbed hold of a four-inch-long centipede that had somehow slithered into his organ.
Botti’s mother, Angela, immediately grabbed the insect and threw it into a plastic bag. Then she shuttled her son to the hospital, as he still felt pain even after they had extracted the centipede. Doctors subsequently found a few abrasions inside of his ear, but the boy presented no other symptoms. The experts also admitted – not surprisingly – that they had never had a patient come in with a centipede in their ear before.
Yet although the centipede’s presence had no repercussions, the Botti family still wanted to understand how the four-inch-long insect had gotten into the boy’s ear. Angela, for one, was stumped. The only explanation the worried mother could give was that her son had gone swimming outside in the days before pulling the bug from his ear.
In other cases, the discovery of ear-borne bugs can be heartbreaking, to say the least. The case of Catherine McCann is just one frightening example of this. It was reported in 2012 that Catherine’s family placed her into a nursing home when her Alzheimer’s disease symptoms became too severe. Namely, the nonagenarian could neither talk nor take care of herself anymore.
Her husband, John, chose to house her in the Lutheran Home for the Aged in Arlington Heights, Illinois. And he told CBS Chicago in 2012 that he had forked over $270,000 in total to keep his ailing wife at the facility. So he understandably expected that Catherine’s nurses would provide her with attentive care.
Decades before Catherine moved into the nursing home, though, she had undergone surgery to have her ear canal enlarged. And to keep it clean and healthy, the canal required regular flushings and antibiotics to fight any infections. So when, in 2012, the Alzheimer’s patient had a wax build-up, she saw a doctor who prescribed drops to empty her ear.
But Catherine kept tugging at her ear even after getting the medication – a sign that something else was bothering her. Of course, Alzheimer’s had rendered Catherine non-verbal, so she couldn’t tell anyone what was bothering her. The day after her last dose of ear drops, though, an attendant in the nursing home realized what was happening.
First, an aide noticed Catherine pulling at her ear and informed the on-staff nurse, who then peered inside Catherine’s ear. And disturbingly, the nurse could see a maggot inside. She subsequently called the home’s medical director, who said they should take Catherine to the hospital right away.
Once Catherine arrived at Northwest Community Hospital, doctors got to work to remove the larvae from her ear canal. And stunningly, the experts plucked 57 maggots from the area. As the doctors labored to remove all of the insects from Catherine’s body, though, the patient’s family had to listen as she screamed in pain.
Catherine’s daughter, Mary Stassen, had to hear her mother’s shrieks too. She also saw a photo of the maggots emerging from Catherine’s ear. Afterward, Mary told CBS Chicago, “It’s a picture I will never, ever get out of my mind – ever.” The rest of the senior citizen’s family matched her level of outrage, to the point that the family hired an attorney to sue her nursing home.
The family’s attorney, Henry Gruss, wondered if Catherine had received her initial round of ear drops at all. This should have been the prescription that preceded the nursing aide finding a maggot. He said, “I’m questioning whether or not she received the medication in that left ear during this time. Because how can you put drops of medicine in an ear that has 57 maggots?”
Catherine’s husband, John, also claimed that no one had told him about the maggot situation. He told CBS Chicago, “I was horrified, shocked. I thought it was terrible. I’m paying all this money for that kind of care – no way. After giving them $270,000 of my hard-earned money — my life savings I gave to them — and not even so much as a note or a call.”
The nursing home countered that Catherine did receive the proper treatment. The statement said the problem was that no one could see the maggots until they’d reached a certain size. The home also claimed that an exterminator came in and couldn’t confirm the presence of flies – alleging instead that one must have entered McCann’s ear while she’d been outside.
However it happened, though, the discovery of maggots in Catherine McCann’s ear counts as one of the more disturbing things that a person has found there. Yet similar stories have people pulling cockroaches, moths and even ticks from the same spot. And then there is Susie Torres – who found an entirely different surprise in her ear.
As previously mentioned, Torres – of Kansas City, Missouri – kept hearing whooshing noises in her left ear. She initially thought the pops and swishes probably came from water stuck in the aural canal. Or, Torres believed, the noises could be a side effect of an allergy shot that she’d had administered to her. Either way, though, the sound caused her discomfort, so she decided to see a doctor.
Because the sound didn’t seem to be a huge cause for concern, Torres waited until she had finished working for the day. Then she went to have her ear checked by a doctor. First, though, a medical assistant came in to examine the patient – perhaps just to scope things out before handing the case over to the resident.
But the medical assistant found a lot more than she’d bargained for when she peered into Torres’ ear. She took a look – and then backed straight out of the examination room. Torres told KSHB in 2019, “She ran out and said, ‘I’m going to get a couple more people.’” When they returned, the assistant then delivered some shocking news.
According to CNN, the medical assistant said to Torres, “I think you have an insect in there.” Then she left the room again, but the patient didn’t panic – yet. When the assistant returned with a more detailed diagnosis, though, she could have sent Torres into overdrive. As Torres recalled, the medical assistant “came back and told [her] it was a spider.”
Knowing a spider had moved into their ear would be enough to frighten anyone. But for Torres, the news proved especially scary. After the ordeal, she admitted to 41 Action News, “I’m pretty terrified of spiders.” Luckily, though, the medical team worked swiftly to remove the unwanted arachnid from her ear.
But the creature didn’t come right out; the medical team had to instead wield a handful of different methods to coax it from Torres’ ear. And surveying all of the doctors’ tools elicited even more fear in the patient. She told CNN, “Seeing the instruments they were going to put in my ear started to make me panic.”
First, though, the doctor went with a simpler, softer method – flushing the ear canal with water to remove the spider. But this treatment proved unsuccessful, so the doctor switched to a manual method. And with one of the instruments that had initially daunted Torres, the expert managed to pull the spider out of its hiding place.
With the arachnid out of Torres’ ear, the medical team examined it and delivered some relatively calming news. The patient recalled, “The nurses said it was dead, but they might’ve just said that so I wouldn’t freak out.” Upon further inspection, in fact, the professionals realized something even scarier about the spider.
The arachnid in Torres’ ear was a brown recluse. These spiders have earned their names because they tend to ensconce themselves in logs, under rocks or in any other dark corner they can find. That applies to indoor spaces as well; they’ve been found in attics, closets and even in people’s shoes.
The brown recluse, which makes its home in the Midwestern U.S., also has a scary defense for when it feels threatened. If pressed against the skin of another creature, these arachnids will bite – and inject a necrotic venom. As the venom’s descriptor implies, it starts to kill off a victim’s red blood cells once it infiltrates the body.
In extreme cases, this necrotic venom can kill off so many blood cells in a person that a victim requires limb amputation. This happened in 2018 when an Arkansas woman named Kiara Boulton suffered a strong bite from a brown recluse. Doctors initially had to remove her toe, which had turned black from the necrotic venom. Eventually, though, the experts were forced to remove Boulton’s entire leg.
Yet luckily for Boulton, Torres, and everyone else who comes in contact with a brown recluse, their bites rarely prove fatal. The most important step is, of course, seeking medical attention as soon as possible after feeling or noticing a spider bite on your body. A brown recluse’s post-bite rash will turn dark. The more pigmented section is where tissue starts to die from the venom.
With the right antibiotics, though, doctors can stall the venom from spreading. Yet some people can also suffer from a systemic reaction post-bite. So doctors have to treat these patients for fever and rash as well as the breakdown of their red blood cells. This scenario would require a blood transfusion as well.
But in Torres’ case, she got lucky. The brown recluse was, after all, pressed against her skin – yet the arachnid didn’t bite her. It just seemed to have crawled around inside of her ear canal. Still, the Kansas City resident said she learned her lesson after the ordeal. She even bought an accessory to help keep spiders at bay from then on.
More specifically, Torres said she bought a pair of earplugs. She will sleep with them in to prevent any more insects from crawling inside of her body. Yet she still felt surprised that such a thing had happened, telling CNN, “I just didn’t think it was possible for them to come inside the ear. Who would’ve thought?”
Interestingly, there are a few steps we can all take to prevent spiders from taking up residence in our homes – and crawling into our ears. Removing spider webs is a good place to start. Then get rid of any clutter behind which insects might hide and make their homes. Be sure to also seal up any crevices through which spiders could sneak inside.
If preventative measures don’t work, though, and you think you feel a spider or another insect crawling inside of your ear, you can try and gently remove it on your own. The Mayo Clinic suggests forcing the bug to float out by flushing the ear with warm mineral oil, baby oil or olive oil.
You might also be able to pluck an offending bug with a pair of tweezers, or you could rinse it out with an ear syringe filled with warm water. Of course, doctors are standing by to do the job for you, too. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it. After all, you might just have a poisonous spider taking up residence in your ear.
Any kind of long-term aches and complaints shouldn’t be ignored, either. In July 2019, for instance, a boy named Ravindranath was on the operating table in a hospital in Chennai, India. The youngster had been complaining of jaw ache for some time and naturally that had led his parents to get him checked out by professionals. But as dentists took a closer look at the swollen area, they could barely believe their eyes. And what they started to take out was truly shocking.
Ravindranath’s dental issues had started a few years ago, although initially there may not have been much cause for concern. After all, it’s common for children to complain about toothache from time to time, and a trip to the dentist usually helps rectify any problems.
When their son was a toddler, though, Ravindranath’s mom and dad had noted that his jaw was somewhat swollen. That wasn’t the end of the problems, either, as around four years after that, the youngster began to mention that there was a pain in his mouth. Something was just not right, it seemed.
So, to discover the cause of Ravindranath’s discomfort, his mouth was X-rayed. Then, after dentists had looked over the results, they told the boy’s concerned parents that he required an operation. Even following that treatment, however, the specialists were still left gobsmacked when they started the surgery and saw what was inside for themselves.
Nowadays, many of us do our best to maintain our health – whether that’s through looking after our diets or by adopting regular fitness routines. But even if you’re as fit as a fiddle physically, your dental hygiene definitely shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Just like our bodies, it takes some work to keep our teeth looking fresh and healthy for the most part. A thorough brush at least twice a day is all-important, of course, while flossing and using mouthwash can both help, too. Despite your best efforts, however, there will come a time when you need to book an appointment at the dentist.
Now, the thought of visiting the dentist can be quite terrifying – especially if you require a procedure that involves a drill. In many cases, though, a bit of prodding and poking around the gums is as bad as things will get. And if you’re fortunate enough to have pretty tip-top teeth, then spare a thought for those who suffer from a rather troubling and unusual dental issue.
Known as hyperdontia, this condition is believed to affect over 200,000 people in the United States each year. And while the problem is most common in those aged between 14 and 60, children can also be susceptible. But what exactly is hyperdontia? Well, the following description by Healthline should help clue you in.
The medical website explains, “Hyperdontia is a condition that causes too many teeth to grow in your mouth. These extra teeth are sometimes called supernumerary teeth. They can grow anywhere in the curved areas where teeth attach to your jaw. This area is known as the dental arches.”
“The 20 teeth that grow in when you’re a child are known as primary, or deciduous teeth,” the post continues. “The 32 adult teeth that replace them are called permanent teeth. You can have extra primary or permanent teeth with hyperdontia, but extra primary teeth are more common.” At that stage, the website touched upon the symptoms of the condition.
The most telling sign of hyperdontia, it seems, is the sudden appearance of any teeth behind your adult or primary “baby” teeth. Healthline also claims that men are more likely to suffer from this issue than women. But despite how uncomfortable this may all sound, people can work through it.
As Healthline goes on to explain, “Hyperdontia usually isn’t painful. However, sometimes the extra teeth can put pressure on your jaw and gums, making them swollen and painful. Overcrowding caused by hyperdontia can also make your permanent teeth look crooked.” Taking that into consideration, the post then offered up some advice to any sufferers out there.
For one, people don’t necessarily need to have the extra teeth taken out – especially if they’re not causing any major problems. Unsurprisingly, though, that changes fairly quickly if the additional teeth start to have any kind of negative impact on the individual with hyperdontia.
“While some cases of hyperdontia don’t need treatment, others require removing the extra teeth,” Healthline explains. “[And] if the extra teeth are starting to affect your dental hygiene or other teeth – like delaying the eruption of permanent teeth – it’s best to remove them as soon as possible. This will help avoid any lasting effects, such as gum disease or crooked teeth.”
“If the extra teeth only cause you mild discomfort,” Healthline adds, “your dentist may recommend taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen for [the] pain.” Sadly, though, one teenager living in India in 2014 had had to battle through the distress all by himself – at least, to begin with.
Yes, although 17-year-old Ashik Gavai had been struggling with a swollen jaw for around a year and a half, the doctors in his community couldn’t provide him with any answers. To get to the bottom of the problem, then, Ashik’s dad, Suresh, chose to take matters into his own hands.
At one point, Suresh even feared that his son might have a form of cancer. In a bid for answers, then, the worried father took his son to Mumbai. And after the pair arrived at the city’s JJ Hospital, they discussed Ashik’s mysterious medical issue with Dr. Sunanda Dhiware.
Dr. Dhiware was in charge of dentistry at the hospital, and it was her team that solved the mystery. And while looking back on the case in a 2014 interview with the BBC, she touched upon what happened next. The physician said, “Ashik’s malaise was diagnosed as a complex composite odontoma, where a single gum forms lots of teeth.”
Dhiware added of the condition, “It’s a sort of benign tumor. At first, we couldn’t cut it, out so we had to use the basic chisel and hammer to take it out. Once we opened it, little pearl-like teeth started coming out one by one. Initially, [when] we were collecting them, they were really like small white pearls.”
Then, after Dhiware and her team had finished removing the “pearls”, they counted an astonishing total of 232 teeth. The operation itself had lasted around seven hours and had been overseen by four people. And thanks to the hospital staff’s efforts, the teenager was left with a more regular number of teeth – a perfectly satisfactory 28 – at the end of the delicate procedure.
Following the surgery, though, Dhiware reflected on the unusual nature of the condition. The sight of all those teeth had left her stunned although that’s perhaps no surprise. You see, Ashik had seemingly surpassed the experienced physician’s expectations of complex composite odontoma – which in itself is a form of hyperdontia.
“[I had] not seen anything like this before in my 30-year career,” Dhiware admitted to the BBC. “[But I was] thrilled to get such an exciting case. According to medical literature available on the condition, it is known to affect the upper jaw, and a maximum of 37 teeth have been extracted from the tumor in the past.”
Dhiware added, “But in Ashik’s case, the tumor was found deep in the lower jaw, and it had hundreds of teeth.” Then, around five years on from that eye-opening story, another tale emerged from India in the summer of 2019. And it could easily be argued that this particular incident was far more shocking than even Ashik’s story.
Young Ravindranath had been suffering from a swollen jaw ever since he had been a toddler – and the cause of the discomfort didn’t seem to be obvious, either. Then, when Ravindranath’s mom and dad eventually picked up on their son’s discomfort, they acted fairly quickly in bringing the boy to a medical facility. Unfortunately for all concerned, though, the trip didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Speaking to The Times of India in August 2019, Ravindranath’s dad, S Prabudoss, shed some light on that visit. “We took [Ravindranath] to a government hospital,” the father said. “But [the doctors] could not convince him to sit down for tests. We also let it go, as we thought he was just a small kid.”
After that, though, the problem persisted for another few years. Then, when Ravindranath noted pain in his jaw in 2019, his parents initially put the ache down to a decaying tooth. Looking to get a definitive answer on the issue, however, Ravindranath’s mom and dad ultimately took him to the Saveetha Dental College in Chennai. And while Ravindranath was there, the staff were able to carry out an X-ray of his mouth.
But when the doctors at the facility looked at the result of the X-ray, they may have been shocked. According to the scan, Ravindranath had a sac nestled into his jaw containing countless “abnormal teeth.” It seemed, then, that he was suffering from a case of compound composite odontoma – an additional form of hyperdontia.
At that stage, the physicians sprang into action, explaining the situation to Ravindranath’s mom and dad. And following a quick conversation, the pair agreed that their son should have an operation to remove the growth. After a couple of hours, the youngster himself also came to terms himself with what needed to be done.
So with everything in place, Ravindranath’s operation was scheduled for July 2019. This procedure would be overseen by two dentists and would last for a couple of hours. And the college’s Dr. Senthilnathan would explain what happened during the surgery when talking to The Times of India.
Senthilnathan recalled, “Surgery was inevitable. Instead of breaking open the bone from the sides and leaving a large hole, we drilled into it from the top. Luckily, [Ravindranath] did not require any reconstruction of the jaw. There was a sac with tiny teeth that had to be carefully removed so that they didn’t chip and break away.”
Then, once the sac had been taken out, a team of doctors attempted to empty its contents as delicately as possible. Incredibly, they spent between four and five hours clearing the teeth from the growth. And when the procedure had been completed, there was a sensational announcement: an incredible 526 teeth had been removed from Ravindranath’s jaw.
While in conversation with The Times of India, a physician named Dr. Prathibha Ramani also revealed details about the condition of the teeth and their appearance. She said, “The teeth were in different sizes that varied between 0.1 mm (0.04 inches) to 15 mm (0.6 inches). They looked like pearls in an oyster. Even the smallest piece had a crown, root and an enamel coating like a tooth.”
But Senthilnathan felt the need to raise an important point after completing the surgery in Chennai. In particular, the dentist seemingly didn’t want the unusual findings from the operation to steal the local headlines. Instead, he hoped that his work would help make an impact on India’s dental sector.
“This is not just about our surgical accomplishment,” Senthilnathan told The Times of India. “It’s about the need to improve pediatric dental care and create better awareness about oral hygiene and dentistry among people.”
And Senthilnathan also touched upon the topic with CNN as the story went viral over the summer of 2019. He said, “Earlier, things like not as many dentists, lack of education [and] poverty meant that there was not as much awareness [about dental health]. These problems are still there.”
Senthilnathan subsequently outlined the current situation with dental hygiene in India. “You can see people in [the] cities have better awareness,” the physician added. “But people who are in rural areas are not as educated or able to afford good dental health.” Ravindranath, by contrast, had had a successful procedure – not least because he was now free of pain.
So, how many teeth was Ravindranath left with following the operation? Well, when he was discharged from the hospital a few days after the surgery, the young boy had only 21 teeth in his mouth – a far cry from the astonishing amount that the dentists had dug up. And while Ravindranath probably won’t have two molars on his lower right jaw when he’s older, Dr. Ramani has suggested that he could get some implants to fill the gap when he turns 16 or even 17.
Yet there was one more mystery that needed to be untangled following the surgery: why this had happened to Ravindranath in the first place. And while Ramani believed that the compound composite odontoma wouldn’t come back, she couldn’t say this for sure.
In fact, Ramani could only speculate as to the cause of Ravindranath’s condition – although she had her suspicions. You see, the hospital had been conducting tests on individuals who resided close to cell phone towers in India, and this led the doctor to make a potential connection between these cases and that of Ravindranath.
“[The] biopsy results showed [that Ravindranath’s condition] was just [an] abnormal growth,” Ramani told The Times of India. “There could be a strong genetic connection, but we cannot rule out environmental factors such as radiation from mobile towers.” Still, although the findings were somewhat inconclusive, there is nevertheless some happy news: Ravindranath is believed to be recovering well with his parents.