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    Foreign body in the nose

    Something stuck in the nose; Objects in the nose

    This article discusses first aid for a foreign object placed into 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.


    Symptoms that your child may have a foreign body in his or her nose include:

    • 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

    First Aid

    • DO NOT search the nose with cotton swabs or other tools. This may push the object further into the nose.
    • DO NOT use tweezers or other tools to remove an object that is stuck deep inside the nose.
    • DO NOT try to remove an object that you cannot see or one that is not easy to grasp. This can push the object farther in or cause damage.
    • Have the person breathe through the mouth. The person should notbreathe in sharply. Thismay force the object in further.
    • Gently press and close the nostril that does NOT have the object init. Ask theperson to blow gently. This may help push the object out. Avoid blowing the nose too hard or repeatedly.
    • If this method fails, get medical help.

    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 their noses 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.


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    A Closer Look

      Self Care

        Tests for Foreign body in the nose

          Review Date: 1/1/2013

          Reviewed By: 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.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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