Definition

What is foreign object in the ear?

Foreign object in the ear is something that is stuck in your ear canal. The common foreign objects are cotton swabs, insects (cockroaches, flies, ants), food (beans or seeds), small toys, beads… You usually know if an object is stuck in your ear, but small children may not be aware of it.

How common is foreign object in the ear?

This foreign object in the ear is relatively common. Many patients with foreign object in the ear are children and people with psychiatric disorders. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of foreign object in the ear?

The common symptoms of foreign object in the ear are:

  • Ear pain if the object injures the ear canal or the eardrum, or causes an infection
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Hear buzzing or feel tickling sensations if an insect enter the ear canal
  • Redness, itching, or bleeding in your ear
  • Dizziness

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • The object cannot be removed easily
  • Trouble hearing or you hear ringing
  • Severe ear pain
  • Having pus or blood from the ear

Causes

What causes foreign object in the ear?

A person may put something into the ear due to purpose or by accident. The most common ear foreign objects include beads, plastic toys, pebbles, and popcorn kernels. Insects are more common in patients older than 10 years.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for foreign object in the ear?

Children older than 9 months often put foreign objects in the ear. Mentally ill adults are also at an increased risk.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is foreign object in the ear diagnosed?

Your doctor will use a lighted magnifying lens called an otoscope to look inside the ear canal and check your eardrum and look for infection or injuries.

How is foreign object in the ear treated?

Treatment of foreign object in the ear depends on what kind of object and how deep it is. You should not attempt to remove the foreign object by probing with a cotton swab or any tools because it can push the object farther inside the ear and injure the ear canal.

If the object is clearly visible  and can be grasped easily with a tweezer, you can gently remove it. Small objects sometimes can fall out with the help of gravity if you tilt the head to the affected side.

If the object is an insect, you should never push your finger into the ear because the insect may sting or bite. The safest way to remove an insect in the ear is to get a doctor then can remove the insect by flushing out the ear canal with clean water. This method should not use for a child if ear tubes are in place or the eardrum may be perforated.

If the object cannot be removed easily or if you experience pain in the ear or reduced hearing, you should seek medical assistance.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage foreign object in the ear?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with foreign object in the ear:

  • Pay attention to children when they are playing with small objects.
  • Do not use any objects, such as tissues, cotton swabs or toothpicks, to clean the ear canal.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: April 23, 2017 | Last Modified: April 23, 2017

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