Tissue, safety pins, buttons, raisins, beans, peas, candy, popcorn
kernels, erasers. Is this a shopping list for the grocery store? It might
be, but for parents of some children this may be a familiar collection of
items that seem to find their way into their youngster - namely the ears,
nose and throat!
It brings much joy to parents when their kids start crawling and walking.
In addition to the natural urge to explore everything in their environment,
kids also have a tendency to put things in their mouth or nose or have items
placed there accidently while playing with friends.
It is the rare child that comes forward to admit that he or she has
inserted something into his/her nose or ear. More often, the child has symptoms
that cause parents to become concerned that something is wrong. Be on the
lookout for unexplained pain, difficulty in hearing, or a clunking sound
in the ear - all signs that something could be stuck there. Smaller children
may be fussy and try to scratch the ear to get the foreign body out. And
any time a child has a foul-smelling discharge from only one nostril, and
it is a parent's unfortunate duty to check for a foreign body in the nose.
In addition, the presence of bleeding from one nostril should prompt
investigation for a foreign body.
In most instances, any attempt by parents to remove the foreign body
will only make a bad situation worse. Do not try to remove the object with
tweezers or your finger. This can push a foreign body deeper into the nose
or ear and possibly damage the eardrum or make removal by a physician more
difficult. With foreign bodies in the nose, a parent's attempt to remove
it almost always results in a bloody nose also making the ultimate removal
by a physician more demanding. It is best to allow your child's pediatrician
to assess the situation. Often, simple irrigation of the ear canal will dislodge
the object in the doctor's office. If your pediatrician is unable to remove
it, then referral to an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist
should be consulted to remove the object. These physicians have proper
instruments and microscopes and can provide for good control of the child
to allow the foreign body to be removed with as little pain as possible.
A foreign body in the nose or ear is not dangerous and only infrequent does
removal have to be done on an emergency basis (unless there is an infection).
Once the doctor removes the object from the ear or nose, there usually is
no further problem.
Once the foreign body is out, tell the child in an age-appropriate
way not to do it again..... but do not belabor the point. Parents who continue
to mention the incident repeatedly to a child will give the event too much
importance. The youngster comes to appreciate that repeating the act will
bring him/her more parental attention.
Taking proper precautions and preventing these problems from occurring
is the best solution. Start training the child not to put things into his/her
mouth, ears or nose, as soon as possible. Make every attempt to keep small
objects out of the reach of children. Keep the floor clean and remove small
things like buttons, pins, beads etc., which we tend to throw about
Once the foreign body has been removed, parents should notify their
physician if the nose or ear begins to bleed, there continues to be drainage
from the nose or ear (a second object may still be inside) or the youngster
develops fever, earache, headache, pain in the cheeks or around the eyes,
or a yellow-green nasal discharge appears or the child has trouble breathing
Parental vigilance is always the best way to avoid foreign body problems
in their kids. Now, where is that quarter I left on the table?