Hundreds of Mushroom-Like Growths Discovered in Woman's Ear After Fungal Infection

A woman who visited the doctor complaining of discomfort in her ear discovered she had hundreds of mushroom-like growths lining the canal.

The unnamed patient in Dien Bien, a province in the northwest of Vietnam, visited a clinic after suffering from itchy, and painful ears, Newsflare reported.

A doctor used an endoscopic device, where a camera and light is attached to a flexible tube, to examine the woman's ear. Footage shows the camera entering the woman's ear to reveal gray sprouts resembling mushrooms lining the ear canal.

The doctor diagnosed the patient with an ear infection, and was able to remove the growths.

If left untreated, the fungi could have destroyed the patient's ear canal, according to the doctor.

Professor Carl Philpott, honorary secretary of ENT UK, the professional membership body representing ear, nose and throat surgery in the U.K., told Newsweek the video appears to show a fungal ear infection. It would usually respond to anti-fungal ear drops for four to six weeks.

Philpott argued it's unlikely to destroy the ear unless the patient was immunocompromised. Some "malignant" forms of the condition need intravenous antibiotics and longer-term treatment for three months or more. These can be associated with significant illness and even death, "but these patients are usually not healthy in the first instance," he said.

A fungal ear infection is known as otomycosis, which is most common in people who live in warm, tropical climates or who take part in water sports. Those with weak immune systems are most at risk. But people who damage their ears by using cotton swabs or hearing aids, have chronic skin conditions like eczema, diabetics, and those who don't have enough earwax are also more likely to have the infection than the average person.

The condition is characterized by a loss of hearing, sometimes leading a person to fearing they have gone deaf. Their ear may also itch, and feel as if it is full. It can also trigger pain, swelling, flaking skin, and a discharge.

Otomycosis can be treated by cleaning out the ear, using a special rinse or a suction device. Clearing and drying the ear can help medication work to clear the infection. People concerned they have the condition should not try to scoop out the fungus themselves, as this could make the condition worse.

Antifungal ear drops can be used to kill the infection, while patients with more serious infections that cannot be tackled topically might need to use oral medication.

Untreated or recurrent otomycosis can lead to a perforated ear drum. The infection has also been known to spread to other parts of the head, such as the base of the skull. This may require surgical treatment.

There are a number of ways to prevent all types of ear infections, including keeping children's vaccines up-to-date, avoiding putting q-tips or fingers in the ears, and using ear plugs while swimming.

This article has been updated with comment from Carl Philpott.

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A stock image of mushrooms growing on a tree. A patient in Vietnam had a mushroom-like fungus growing in her ear. Getty