Remove Foreign Body From Child’s Nose

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A foreign body is anything not organic to the human body: a toy, a piece of wadded-up newspaper, or a bead. Even something technically organic, such as a pea, is considered a foreign body since it’s not supposed to be lodged in the nose.

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Toddlers put all sorts of things up their noses. Even if your child does not seem bothered, these objects can eventually cause problems and must be removed.

Sometimes objects end up in the nose accidentally. For instance, an object can become lodged in the nose after a fall.


Objects can also wind up in the nose thanks to friends or sib­lings. As a result, the answer to the question “Did you put some­thing up your nose?” may be a truthful “No,” even though an object is stuck in there.

What can I do?

The best way to remove a foreign body from the nose simply and painlessly is to make your child sneeze. Small objects that are not too far up the nose will come flying out.


Do not stick anything up your child’s nose in an effort to remove the object. More often than not, you will end up injuring your child or pushing the object in even farther. This could make it harder for the doctor to remove the object later.


If you can see the object, you can try to force it out with a mouth-to-mouth breath. Tell your child what you are going to do. If he is too young to understand, explain that you are going to give him a big kiss. Then put your finger over the nostril that does not have the foreign body in it.

Cover your child’s mouth with your mouth and, keeping your finger against the nostril without the foreign body, blow into your child’s mouth with great force. You can repeat this once or twice, if needed. If you are unsuc­cessful after three attempts, you should call your doctor.

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When does my doctor need to be involved?

If your child has a foreign body lodged up her nose, your doctor will have to take a look. Certainly, if there is significant pain or I bleeding, call your doctor. Even if you don’t see anything up there, if your child tells you she has put something up her nose, it is worthwhile to have your doctor check it out. Children rarely say this without meaning it.


What tests need to be done, and what do the results mean?

Tests are generally not done when an object is stuck up the nose. Looking with a special light and magnifier is usually all that is needed.


What are the treatments?

The first step in removing a foreign body from the nose is to look and see where it is. An object that is so far up it is barely visible may need to be removed by a surgeon. In these cases, special tools and numbing medicines are often necessary.


However, if the object is visible and relatively accessible, it can be removed using a very narrow Q-Tip called a Calgiswab or a special tool called an alligator forceps.

An alligator forceps looks like a pair of scissors, but its tip has a very small and nar­row clamp. Your child will need to hold still for the removal. If holding still presents a big challenge — and for some toddlers it is simply impossible — your child will need to be held in an immobile position.

A light is shone up the nostril and the swab or forceps is inserted into the nostril until the object is retrievable. If your child holds still, she will feel no pain as the object is fished out of the nostril.