Most people don’t treat headaches like a particularly big deal, choosing to take a pain reliever or drink a cup of coffee before crossing their fingers and hoping it goes away on its own.
For one woman in India, though, a trip to the doctor revealed that her afternoon headache was more than just a lack of sleep or not drinking enough water—and the true cause for her painful condition might give you the heebie-jeebies for a while.
A woman only named as “Lekshmi L” in Karnataka, India, decided that she wanted a medical opinion when her lingering headache started to couple with “acute ear ache followed by sharp pains.”
She had fallen asleep outside one afternoon and woke up with the headache, which started to get worse as the day went on. And although her attempts to check her ear with her finger or a flashlight didn’t yield much, the pain eventually became too much, and she decided to head to the hospital.
One might assume that she was suffering from a particularly painful ear infection, or even a tumor. And her attending ENT, Dr. Santosh Shivaswamy, said that he’s had plenty of patients come in for exams only for him to discover objects lodged in their ear canals.
In Lekshmi’s case, though, Dr. Shivaswarmy discovered something in her ear that he’d never seen before—a spider.
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In an interview with The Indian Express, Lekshmi explained that she’d been terrified when she “felt something crawling” in her ear. But while the nerves in an individual’s ear canal can sometimes make it feel like something is moving when nothing is, that wasn’t the case here; sure enough, an eight-legged critter crawled out after having made its home inside her ear, to her horror.
“I was terrified as I could feel movement of a creature in my ear,” she said. “The acute ear ache followed by sharp pains suffocated me. I couldn’t think of anything and was petrified when the doctor confirmed presence of a spider in my ear.”
Ultimately, the situation isn’t altogether unfathomable. Spiders tend to prefer dark, warm, and often damp spaces to make their homes, and an ear hypothetically fits the bill.
While that may leave you anxious over the slightest tickling in your ear canal, the likelihood of a spider ending up camping out there is pretty slim.
A similar viral story told of a man in Missouri who claimed that a spider had crawled into his ear while swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks. It turned out that the man was actually a graphic designer who had digitally added a spider to a video of his ear for a quick gag.
Bugs crawling into your ear isn’t all that common—and for the most part, getting them out is relatively easy. Still, this is the kind of story most people hope they’ll never experience firsthand.