Foreign body in the nose
This article discusses first aid for a foreign object placed into the nose.
Something stuck in the nose; Objects in the nose
Curious young children may insert small objects into their nose in a normal attempt to explore their own bodies. Potential objects placed in the nose may include food, seeds, dried beans, small toys (such as marbles), crayon pieces, erasers, paper wads, cotton, and beads.
A foreign body in a child's nose can be there for awhile without a parent being aware of the problem. The object may only be discovered when visiting a doctor to find the cause of irritation, bleeding, infection, or difficulty breathing.
- Difficulty breathing through the affected nostril
- Feeling of something in the nose
- Foul-smelling or bloody nasal discharge
- Irritability, particularly in infants
- Irritation or pain in the nose
- Do not search the nose with cotton swabs or other tools. This may push the object further into the nose.
- Have the person breathe through the mouth. The person should not breathe in sharply. This may force the object in further.
- Gently press and close the nostril that does NOT have the object in it. Ask the person blow gently. This may help push the object out. Avoid blowing the nose too hard or repeatedly.
- If this method fails, get medical help.
- DO NOT try to remove an object that you cannot see or is not easy to grasp. This can push the object farther in. It could cause damage.
- DO NOT use tweezers or other tools to remove an object that is stuck deep inside the nose.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Seek immediate medical help if:
- The person cannot breathe well
- Bleeding occurs and continues for more than 2 or 3 minutes after you remove the foreign object, despite placing gentle pressure on the nose
- An object is stuck in both nostrils
- You cannot easily remove a foreign object from the person's nose
- You think an infection has developed in the nostril where the object is stuck
- Teach children to avoid placing foreign objects into the nose and other body openings.
- Keep small objects out of the reach of infants and toddlers.
Thomas SH, White BA. Foreign bodies. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 57.
Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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