After four irritating days and four long, sleepless nights, a woman in Taiwan had finally had enough.
She couldn't bear the incessant rustling sounds and clicking she kept hearing inside her left ear, so deep it felt like they were coming from inside her bones. And sensing movement, she couldn't shake the idea that something had holed up in her ear canal.
The woman wasn't wrong. When she attended an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) clinic, doctors discovered a beady-eyed spider scuttling about inside her left ear.
With the shriveled remains of its molted exoskeleton cast aside, the young spider had likely taken refuge in a dark place to shed its hard outer layer during a growth spurt, much to the woman's displeasure.
According to medical staff at the Tainan Municipal Hospital in Tainan City, Taiwan, the 64-year-old woman didn't feel any pain and the spider was tiny: only 2-3 millimeters (0.1 inches) in size. But like anyone who has had a mosquito buzzing around their ear at night, she must have been at wit's end.
"There's an extremely sensitive, thin layer of skin that lines the ear canal called the external auditory canal," explains David Kasle, a physician at ENT Sinus and Allergy of South Florida who spoke to NBC News' Aria Bendix.
The canal is lined with tiny hairs and sweat glands, and so "because of its sensitivity, you're obviously going to feel the crawling sensation, a tickle sensation that is almost unbearable," Kasle says.
ENT specialists say every now and then they find insects lodged inside a patient's ear, and that most damage to the ear canal or eardrum is actually from the person trying to dislodge the intruder, not from the bug itself.
Luckily, the woman's eardrum was still intact and so was her hearing. Her symptoms resolved as soon as doctors extracted the spider and its old casings from her ear with a suction tube.
But that's not always the case. If this story gives you the heebie-jeebies, spare a thought for the 9-year-old boy who in 2019, had a blood-thirsty tick latch on to his eardrum. Or the Florida woman who woke up to a cockroach in her ear that took 9 days to get out. At least this little spider was just merrily dancing about.
The case report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.