Sat, May 21, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Eating in bed can attract ants into your ears: doctor

NO MIDNIGHT SNACKS:It’s the stuff urban legends are made of: 25 dead ants extracted from a girl’s ear. But it could happen to you too, if you eat snacks in bed

Staff Writer, with CNA

It is not unusual for mothers to stop their children from eating in bed, but now doctors are also telling their patients the same thing — if they don’t want ants crawling into their ears.

Although it is common to find small bugs in ear canals, a local doctor yesterday said he recently found as many as 25 dead ants in the ears of a 16-year-old girl.

Before seeking medical help, the girl, who has a sweet tooth, had been suffering from ear pain for several months, said Hung Yaun-tsung (洪元宗), chief of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Taipei City Hospital.

Hung suspected that her habit of eating cookies and cakes in bed lured the ants into her ears, causing unbearable itching.

“She confided that she would pick her ears while eating snacks and later go to sleep without brushing away the crumbs,” the doctor said. “The ants might have found their way into her ears by following the cookie crumbs, and stayed put because there was enough food there to keep them alive.”

However, the ants he found were dead upon examination, possibly because the girl had dropped some oil into her ears to ease her discomfort, Hung said. Her inflamed eardrums improved after treatment and no ants were found in follow-up sessions.

Ear pain resulting from insect intrusion is common, said Hung, who sees patients with small cockroaches, mosquitoes and ants in their ears on a daily basis.

“But it’s the first time I’ve found so many ants in both ears,” he added.

He said sufferers can put a few drops of cooking oil into their ears to kill the bugs if immediate medical attention cannot be obtained.

“But remember not to scratch your ears, because it could push the bugs further into the ear canal,” he said.

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