Definition

What is foreign object in the nose?

The nose is a surprisingly deep space that extends directly back into the face. A relatively small portion of the nasal cavity is visible by looking into the tip of the nose. In the back of the nose, the space turns downward and connects to the back of the mouth.

Only the imagination limits the objects and circumstances that result in things getting stuck inside of the nose.

Common objects found in noses include food material, tissue paper, beads, toys, and rocks. Most cases of foreign bodies in the nose and nasal cavity are not serious and occur in toddlers and children from 1-8 years of age. Children develop the ability to pick up objects at about the age of 9 months, so foreign objects in the nose are much less common in children 9 months of age or less.

An object that is simply stuck in the nose and not causing other symptoms can usually wait until morning or the following day for removal. The object does, however, have to be completely removed quickly and without discomfort and danger.

In addition, an object stuck in the nose has the potential to dislodge and travel into the mouth where there is the danger of swallowing it, or even worse, inhaling it into the lungs, which may block airflow.

How common is foreign object in the nose?

Children under the age of 5 often have this issue, although it’s not uncommon for older children to place foreign objects up their nostrils. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of foreign object in the nose?

You may suspect that your child has put something in their nose, but are unable to see it when you look up their nose. Foreign objects in the nose may cause other signs.

Nasal Drainage

A foreign body in the nostril will cause nasal drainage. This drainage may be clear, gray, or bloody. Nasal drainage with a bad odor may be a sign of an infection.

Breathing Difficulty

Your child may have difficulty breathing through the affected nostril. This occurs when the object clogs the nostril, making it difficult for air to move through the nasal passage.

Your child may make whistling noises when breathing through their nose. A stuck object could cause this noise.

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?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes foreign object in the nose?

Children often put these objects into their noses out of curiosity, or because they’re mimicking other children. However, foreign objects can also go into the nose while your child is sleeping, or when they try to sniff or smell an object.

Common items that children put up their noses include:

  • Small toys
  • Pieces of eraser
  • Tissue
  • Clay (used for arts and crafts)
  • Food
  • Pebbles
  • Dirt
  • Paired disc magnets
  • Button battery

Button batteries, such as those found in a watch, are of particular concern and cause serious injury to the nasal passage in as little as four hours. Paired disc magnets that are sometimes used to attach earrings or a nose ring can also damage tissue; however, this would occur over a few weeks.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for foreign object in the nose?

Please consult your doctor for further information.

 

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 nose diagnosed?

Make an appointment with your child’s doctor if you suspect your child has something in their nose but you can’t see it. At the appointment, the doctor will ask your child to lay back while they look into your child’s nose with a hand-held lighted instrument.

Your child’s doctor may swab nasal discharge and have it tested for the presence of bacteria.

How is foreign object in the nose treated?

Keep calm if you discover an object in your child’s nose. Your child may begin to panic if they see you panicking.

The only treatment for this condition is to remove the foreign object from the nostril. In some cases, blowing the nose gently may be all that’s necessary to treat this condition.

You can also try removing the object with tweezers. Only use tweezers on larger objects. Tweezers may push smaller objects farther up the nose.

Avoid sticking cotton swabs or your fingers into your child’s nose. This can also push the object farther into the nose.

Stop your child from sniffing. Sniffing could cause the object to move farther up their nose and pose a choking hazard. Encourage your child to breathe through their mouth until the object is removed.

Go to your nearest hospital emergency room or doctor’s office if you can’t remove the object with tweezers. They’ll have other instruments that can remove the object. These include instruments that will help them grasp or scoop out the object and machines that will suction the object out.

To make it more comfortable, the doctor may place a topical anesthetic (spray or drops) inside the nose to slightly numb the area. The doctor may apply a drug that helps prevent a nosebleed prior to the procedure as well.

Your child’s doctor may prescribe antibiotics or nasal drops to treat or prevent an infection.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

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

Even with careful supervision, it can be difficult to prevent your child from putting foreign objects in their nose, ears, or mouth. Sometimes children will misbehave for attention. For this reason, never yell at your child when you catch them putting things in their noses.

Explain to your child how noses function, and why it’s a bad idea to put things in their nose. Have this conversation every time you catch your child trying to put things in their nose.

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.

Review Date: October 30, 2017 | Last Modified: October 30, 2017

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