Hendrik Helmer, who lives in Karama, a suburb of Darwin in northern Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. he immediately suspected something had crawled into his ear when the severe pain woke him early Wednesday. He hoped it was not a venomous spider.
Helmer tried using a vacuum cleaner to pull the creature out and tap water to encourage it to get out on its own. Neither worked.
"Whatever was in my ear didn't like it at all," he said.
Helmer's roommate drove him to the Royal Darwin Hospital, where a doctor put olive oil in his ear. That encouraged the insect to move further down the ear canal, but it also started to die.
The doctor used forceps to clear the insect out and discovered it was a cockroach 2 centimeters (25/32 of an inch) long. Helmer said the doctor told him that when she said his problem might be a "little roach" that was an underestimate.
"They said they had never pulled an insect this large out of someone's ear," Helmer said.
Helmer said some of his friends have started sleeping with ear plugs or head phones. But he has no plans to change his habits.